...                      PHILADELPHIACHURCHISSUESINFO.HTM

                                                               

This material was written over several decades. There are some repetitions but with some changes.

The abbreviations, for example, ChCh, OTC, NTC, TChJCh, WT referring to certain manuscripts which are now included in some of the domains. WT is referring to the book The Witness of the Times. Most of the web-page material was written first in manuscripts. The page numbers are indicating this.

 

A

The Church Takes Stand I

 

  I. Pastoral Issues

II. The present condition of the Faithful departed

III.  Occult Voices from the East

IV. Secret organizations

V. Non Christian Sects

VI. Christian Sects

VII. Meditation on the Bible

VIII. Supplement

Addenda

B

The Church Takes Stand II

C

SERMONS REPORTS TEACHINGS I

D

SERMONS REPORTS TEACHINGS II

E                                                             

SERMONS REPORTS TEACHINGS III

F

SERMONS REPORTS TEACHINGS IV

G

SERMONS REPORTS TEACHINGS V

H

SERMONS REPORTS TEACHINGS VI

The Church Takes Stand I

Introduction

Anointing

2. Christian Burial

3. Intercession

4. The Divine structure

5. The Structure of the Church on the "grass-root level"

6. The Church and the Priesthood

7. Isolated "Christians" and the Church

8. Conversion

9. Rules and Discipline

10. The Task of the Church

11. Faith and Healing

12. God is normally in the normal

13. The Healing Gift of the Church

14. Liberation-ministry

15. Understanding ourselves and others

16. Church and Security

17. Christian Concept of Work - also a therapeutical This material was written over several decades. There are some repetitions but with some changes. This material was written over several decades. There are some repetitions but with some changes. The abbreviations, for example, ChCh, OTC, NTC, TChJCh, WT referring to certain manuscripts which are now included in some of the domains. WT is referring to the book The Witness of the Times. Most of the web-page material was written first in manuscripts. The page numbers are indicating this. The abbreviations, for example, ChCh, OTC, NTC, TChJCh, WT referring to certain manuscripts which are now included in some of the domains. WT is referring to the book The Witness of the Times. Most of the web-page material was written first in manuscripts. The page numbers are indicating this. concept

18. The Truth makes free

19. What is Sickness?

20. Suffering from Christian Perspective

21. Fundamental Principles of Team-communication

22. Growth

23. Psychotherapy and Christian Counseling

24. Parents and Adult "Children"

25. Our Christian Fundaments

b. Jesus and His ministry

c. Paul the Apostle and his ministry

d. The Early Church

e. Mary and her ministry

26. The Essenes - the Dead Sea Scrolls

28. AIDS (and homosexuality)

II. The present condition of the Faithful departed/the "final" things

1. The place of the Faithful Departed

2. The First Resurrection

3. The Last Judgment

4. The Individual Judgment

5. The Special Status of the Christian Martyrs

6. The First Fruits/ the Harvest/ the Vintage

7. The Millennial Kingdom in the Light of Tradition

8. The "falling away first"/ the Antichrist/ the Mystery Babylon/ the Two

Witnesses/ the Hour of Temptation/ Armageddon/ the Advent hope of the

Primitive Church/ the Hope and Disappointment of the Apostles/ Through

the Centuries.../ "Do ye not know..."/ Regeneration

III. Occult - Voices from the East - Sects

1. Walk in the Light of Christ

2. Voices from the East: Acupuncture/ I Ching/ Yoga/ Martial Arts/

3. Other Voices from the East: Sanskrit Mantra/ Hare Krishnas/ Gurus/ Bahais, etc.

4. Some of the Eastern Cults: "Orange People"/ Hare Krishna/ the Baha'is/

the New Age Movement (including modern music and remarks to protect our children)

IV. Secret Organizations

Fraternal groups

Freemasonry

The Blue Lodge

V. Other Religions

Islam

Buddhism

Hinduism

Primitive Religions

Judaism

VI. Non-Christian Sects

1. Mormons

2. Jehovah's Witnesses

3. Adventists

4. Liberation Theology

VII. Christian Sects

A. Group

1. Darbysten

2. The Community of Evangelical Baptists

3. The Congregation of God

4. The Congregation of Christ

5. Evangelical Union of Brothers

6. The Church of the Nazarene

7. The Philadelphia Movement

8. Congregation of Christians, Ecclesia

B/C Group

B

1. Mission-work of Werner Henkelbach

2. Mission-work of "Midnight-call"

3. World-wide Church of God

C. Healing-evangelization D. The Pentecostal Experience

a. Introduction

b. The Catholic-Apostolic Church

c. The New Apostolic-Church

d. The so called "Apocalyptic" Congregation

VIII. Meditation on the Bible

1. The God of Comfort

2. The Way of the Cross

3. The Holy Trinity - a special view

Closing words - see Introduction

IX. Supplement

1. Creation or Evolution?

2. Rock Music

3. Bible Insights

Addenda

Introduction

The Church has to instruct and take stands on all issues. The believer has the right to know the truth. In this book there are no "closing words". The Apostle-college will continually inform and teach the Church about rising issues as they occur.

I. Pastoral issues

It is important for the Church to teach and to take her stand in the world. God said: "My people are destroyed by lack of knowledge", Hos 4,6. Let us now examine some important issues in order to build up the Congregation of Christ.

a. Specific issues

1. Anointing

Here we will mention only the anointing of people as a consecration and preparation for a task. Such anointing was granted to the Kings, 1 Sam 16,1; 1 Ki 1,34 and Prophets in the Old Testament. Elijah had to anoint Elisha as his successor according to God's command, 1 Ki 19,16. Aaron and all those who followed in his office were anointed with Holy Oil to become the High Priests of Israel, Ex 28,41.43b.

Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed and King, Lk 4,18; Acts 4,27;10,38; Hebr 1,9. Like Jesus, thus His Apostles too are anointed with the Holy Spirit, 2 Cor 1,21f, and also the followers of the Christ.

2. Christian Burial

Compare 1 Thess 4,13.14.16.18.

Our honoring the departed rests on the Christian faith and hope that they will be raised incorruptible. We believe that all Christians will spend (in their resurrected body) eternity with Christ and with each other.

The burial service for the faithful within the Church family, emphasizes our belonging together - expressing the future re-union in Christ.

Special reverence has always been given to the heroes of our faith, for instance the Martyrs. Their immortal testimony spurred the living to follow their example.

3. Intercessions

Eph 6,18: The request for prayer by the Apostle and the admonishing of the believers to pray for each other is a frequent topic in the Bible. Prayer generally and praying for each other specifically is based on the firm belief that God will answer prayer. Therefore when we are praying for somebody or something we are acting upon the promise of Jesus who said "and whatever you ask in prayer you will receive," Mt 21,22.

To make our prayer effective we have to pray according to God's will - "Thy will be done," Mt 6,10, see also Mt 26,39. We must remember that in approaching God it is also indispensable to forgive, to love, to be patient and to be humble.

4. The Divine Structure

See 1 Cor 11,3.

God the Father is the Head of Christ

Christ is the head of the husband (man)

Husband is the head of the wife and chief authority over the children

Wife is the helpmate to the husband, Gn 2,18 and second authority over the children

Children are obedient to their parents, Eph 6,1, see also Eph 6,4

"Husbands love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her," Eph 5,25 - "Wife, respect your husband," Eph 5,33

In the Congregation of the Christ, see 1 Pe 5,5; Eph 5,21.

5. The Structure of the Church on the "grass-root level"

See "Church of the Christ - People of God on the Way" - Appendix

The End Time Church of Jesus the Christ will be organized in small communities - House-churches. They will have their own worship services (but coming together with other house-churches to celebrate the Eucharist), outreach (a focus on one selves means to founder), study the Scriptures, meditation, sharing, helping each-other and others - preparing themselves and their environment for the Return of the Christ. They have to relate to each other very deeply. They have to foster the kind of love and acceptance of each other, lived by Christ and the Apostles, which is essential for personal growth.

The leaders of these House-churches are trained by the Apostle or their representatives and are closely united with each other through the Apostle-college.

The groups must be prepared for inevitable crisis and attacks - these have to be looked upon as God-given opportunities to grow. There must be a listening (to the Spirit and to each other), praying, meditating, reflection on all aspects of their life in common - constant concentration in unity on the Coming; this vision should never be lost.

These House-churches (several together) may eventually provide their own priests (trained by the Apostle or their representatives) being drawn from their own ranks.

Faith ventures:

There are those who see the challenge in the darkness of the difficulties and those who see it in the light of the Lord.

God's will have to be sought and have to be done!

- A real sense of need have to arise;

- Existing possibilities have to be explored;

- An important task is to help the rest of the Church (house church, group) to share the vision and come to the same conviction that "this is the Lord's doing";

- Attain a fellowship-commitment:

- A real prayer-involvement - prayer pledges; regular prayer meetings for the pledged purpose(s) and or prayer pledges wherever they are (possibly at the same time);

- Prayerful pledges of other sorts (money, talents, etc.) supporting the project;

- Pressing on to the end: Once we have set our hands to the task, as the Lord demanded, we will not look back, Lk 9,62.

6. The Church and the Priesthood

There is only ONE Priesthood, that is, the Priesthood of Christ! This ONE Priesthood of Christ is made present on earth through the ministerial service, that is, the Charismatic Office of the Apostle. The Priesthood of the Apostle is directly derived from the Priesthood of Christ, that is, He DIRECTLY appoints the Apostle to represent Him. The fullness of Christ's Priesthood is present in the Priesthood of the Apostle - the Apostle is His minister! The Apostle may delegate some part of his priesthood to others, but never the full extent of it. This delegation is called, under certain circumstances, ordination. As the priesthood of an Apostle is dependent on the Priesthood of Christ, so the priesthood of an ordained minister is dependent on the Priesthood of an Apostle.

Christ, the Apostles and those who were chosen by them were man!

Christ Himself chose the Apostles and shared with them His mission and authority; the Apostles chose men to help them in their ministry: The Church is bound by this choice made by the Lord Himself.

That only persons of the male sex can receive the sacrament of ordination is based on positive divine right, see 1 Cor 11,3; Eph 5,22ff.

We will consider the following thoughts:

"For I (Paul) have espoused (the church, congregation) to one husband, to Christ", 2 Cor 11,2 - the Church is the Bride, Christ is the Bridegroom.

"The head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man", 1 Cor 11,3 - as a positive divine order, deeply rooted in human nature, the woman cannot be the head of man, see Eph 5,22f.

The man (bridegroom) is the type of Christ, the woman (bride) is the type of the Church.

The Apostle, the representative of the Christ, is the best-man in the Church.

"The marriage of the Lamb is come, and his bride (the Church) has made herself ready", Rev 19,7b - one day, between the Bridegroom (Christ) and the Church (Bride) a `marriage' feast will take place.

Gn 3,14-19: The curse of God remains in effect - there is no exception ("...he will rule over you..."*). The different state of human nature: 1. The state of the elevated nature, e.g. the original state of man before the Fall; 2. The sate of the fallen nature in which man lost fellowship with God; 3.* The state of restored nature - this is the state of the redeemed in Christ (certain changes can be observed, see Eph 5,22-28 see v.25). See also OT Commentary to Gn 3,14-19.

Woman's ordination

Selected thoughts on the subject:

Man is the image (type) of Christ, whom God has made Head.

The Apostle and the priest, ordained by him, represents Christ, the Bridegroom.

Woman is the type (image) of those who have been given by God to His Son - the believers, the Church.

"The husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church", Eph 5,23.

"I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God", 1 Cor 11,3.

Every woman is called to be a figure or image (type) of the Church, Christ's chosen bride.

Christ is the Bridegroom; the Apostle/priest is the representant of the Bridegroom, the Church is the

Bride - how can the woman become the head and the (image) type of Christ? Bride marries the bride? (see again Rev 19,7b)

Ungodly interpreters of the Bible (not having the Spirit) are reducing the Scriptures to a cultural and contemporary "document" which must undergo changes of time and culture. In this case, as they say, the role of the women underwent substantial changes, therefore we must also change the biblical concept of the role of women. According to this reasoning, the ordination of women is "biblical".

The Word of God is eternal and is not subject to any changes! The interpretation of the Bible is solely given to the Apostle-council of the End Time Church.

As a general rule, women cannot `appear' in the church in any position where she is not under the authority of a man. Whatever they do they have to `perform' under the headship of a man. See also 1 Cor 11,3b;* 1 Tim 2,11.12.

* As a man canot be without a head (see 1 Cor 11,3a), so also the woman! Is Christ without a head? (see 1 Cor 11,3c)

7. Isolated "Christians" and the Church:

We cannot operate as individual commandos but as a "household", Eph, 2,19, that is a team!

8. Conversion

A shaking up of our (former) foundation is necessary so that the Spirit may grant us the real foundation, that is, Jesus Christ.

The breaking up of our individualism and self-sufficiency is necessary - receiving a new strength in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.

We have to experience the painful awareness of the distortion of our lives.

We have to re-think and profoundly question our value system:

Christian fasting these days - is a simple and effective way to dethrone the power of the flesh (appetite).

Tithing is, at the very least, a positive and regular step to break the domination of possession over us - Christians must learn to listen (obey) to the instructions of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit speaks increasingly to Christians, calling them to a simpler life-style and the celebration of discipline.

9. Rules and Discipline

Wrongly used they constitute "works"; their right use is a route to real freedom.

We can and do make idols of anything (...of anything Christian also). Scripture, tradition, charism, saints, doctrines, etc. - their divine origin does not prevent us putting them in the place of Christ.

It is a difficult lessen to learn that what is acceptable to the world may be quite contrary to God's will, Is 55,8f.

10. The Task of the Church

A criticism of the Apostolic Church from the outside (secular, worldly) is impossible - the Church is a Divine Institution.

Loosen the Church out of the Apostolic-order and the Scripture out of the Church leads to sectarianism. The Scripture is integrated into the Church.

a. The Church is in great danger when she hopes to serve society by adapting to it - for she soon places herself under the same power.

The Church has to:

- publicly exposed the powers

- strip them of their power

- submit the powers to Christ's victory

Detect satan's working - his work is characterized by domination and or distortion - compulsion and or too much or too little!

b. The weapons to use

The weapons, the Armor of God, Eph 6,14-18:

No weapon will help if we do not use it.

The girdle of truth: Be truthful in your words, deeds and in your behavior.

The breast-plate of righteousness: Protect your heart, use self-discipline.

Having shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of peace: Be a testimony for Jesus in word and in deed (read the Bible regularly).

Shield of faith: Take God's promises and apply them in your daily life.

The helmet of salvation: Learn to think Christ-like. Be courageous and not discouraged. Be full of hope, look to our Lord for help.

The sword of the Spirit: Applying the Word of God is applying the sword of the Spirit, Mt 4,4f. Study the Word of God on a regular basis. The Holy Spirit will help you to remember the right Word of God at the right moment.

Prayer and intercession in the Holy Spirit: We should worship God and intercede with prayful persistence for all the saints. See "Introduction to Genuine Christian Life".

11. Faith and Healing

Something is not truly Biblical merely because it is contained in Scripture, "Judas went out and hanged himself," Mt 27,5, contradicts the Biblical view of both life and death.

It is right to affirm that God uses our faith, it is blasphemy to believe that our faith can use God. "If you have faith you will be healed," has great appeal because it seems to guarantee success. Rightly used it contains some Biblical truth, wrongly used it is a `christian' magic-formula.

What is magic? It is the belief that non-human powers exists for our benefit and if we say, do or believe certain things we can band them to our own ends. It is absurd to expect that the work of the Great Physician can be contained in a formula - we cannot manipulate God under the guise of having faith in Him.

Does God always require our faith before He can heal us? And if we have faith will He automatically heal us? The answer is no! There are many reports of healing through Christian ministry, for instance, of those of another religion - these healing are not the result of faith but often the prelude to it. If God could only act when we have faith then He would not be sovereign but at the mercy of His gifts to us.

If God automatically did anything in response to us we would be in the realm of magic not of grace. Both Scripture and present-day experience show that the faithful are not invariably healed.

The greatest faith is expressed in deep surrender to God's will whatever it is, rather than in any attempted bargaining with Him.

God uses our faith but we must avoid the view that our faith can use God.

Faith results in our having the grace to obey God - it does not force God to obey us!

12. God is normally in the normal

As we discover that God works also miraculously, then we have learned another important thing about Him. There might be, however, a trap - if we focus on the "signs and wonders" we tend mentally to locate God just in the extraordinary. This is bad news and not Good News: It basically denies the creation and undermines the conviction that God might use bread, wine, water, oil, touch or word to communicate Himself to us. It is right that signs should follow believers but when believers identify God with them, then it is, that believers begin following the signs. The Good News is that God has chosen to step into His creation and work within it. We are saying that God is active

- through His creation and

- through His Son

Medicine primarily applies the lessons revealed in creation, while the Church primarily applies the lessons revealed in and through the Son. As man is body, mind and spirit, and health depends on the harmonious functioning of the whole man, so the task of medicine and the Church are inseparable.

There is in a sense in which even the great miracle of healing, e.g. the raising of Lazarus, is little more than a "dispensation," for every healing has to give away to the "final healing", i.e. death. It is death which is enables us to see most clearly the roles of medicine and the Church, for our view of life depends on our view of death.

Death is the fulfilment of our creation, of our redemption and our sanctification - death follows the final unification with God.

13. The healing gift of the Church

Impressive happenings are not necessarily signs of Christian authenticity. Spiritual ministry should be exercised within the Church. In the Church it should arise from a life which demonstrates the fruit of Spirit-fullness, see Gal 5,22f, without this "charismata"caused (and causes) division. Self-appointed healers are demolition experts rather than healers - a so called Christian who seemingly has the faith to move mountains of sickness and is not in unity with the Body of Christ is not of the Spirit. A counterfeit bank-note is not the opposite of a real one, but as identical as possible. Paul warned against the work of satan in displaying all kinds of counterfeit miracles, sign and wonders, 2 Thess 2,9. Non-Christian (false-Christian) laying-on-of-hands differ from Christian, because the "invisible" elements differ greatly.

The "cure" from the "other side" may be very spectacular, but it does not bring "health" in the Christian sense - it makes your soul sick!

The anointing is appropriate within God's family, the Church, just as the Holy Communion is appropriate only to those who are "in Christ". There is a non-sacramental use of oil, just like it is a non-sacramental "breaking of the bread". Anointing should take place (publicly or privately) within the Body of believers and if the sick person is baptized, within a Holy Communion service - it is always closely linked with confession and absolution, Jas 5,13f (v.16). Representatives of both family and Church should be present.

The gifts of the Church are necessary - they are of God. Signs and wonders are also necessary - it is good to experience God in an extraordinary way, but this cannot lead to a spiritual diet which endlessly seeks signs and addicted to miracles. This kind of faith basically denies the incarnation because it assumes that God is not in the ordinary.

It is very difficult for human beings to "keep to the center of the road". Rather we are continually bouncing from one extreme to another. Those who over-emphasize the head (intellect) usually neglect feelings - their relationship to God is accordingly intellectual. Those who emphasize feelings are of the opinion that God is present only if they can feel it. Neither the one or the other is correct - in our relationship to God we have to find the "center of the road".

14. Liberation-ministry

See "Church of the Christ - People of God on the Way"

a. Preparation

It is important to note that prayer for deliverance is an aspect of the healing ministry and should be seen in the context of the healing of the whole person. This means that complementary means of healing should accompany the ministry of prayer:

1. Medical: The mystery of the incarnation affirms that God works powerfully through the human. God can and does utilize medical science for healing. Consultation with a Christian physician can be supported by spontaneous prayers for healing and the sacrament of the sick.

2. Mental: Christian counseling, forgiveness of people who have hurt us, and prayer for inner healing all address the emotional dimension of the human person.

3. Social: In order to assist a person in the healing process and personal growth, it is often necessary to make certain environmental changes. For example, in certain cases, Christians may have to break certain patterns of relationships that are harmful for them.

4. Spiritual: The goal of the healing ministry is fourfold conversion, that is, religious, emotional, intellectual and moral conversion. This goal is not simply human freedom but a total commitment to live for Jesus and others. Daily prayer, reading of the Scriptures, the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and reconciliation, and Christian service are means of fostering this life with Jesus and others.

If a person has been involved in occult practices in the past, there is also a need to renounce such practices and the objects connected with them, to break all curses and pacts, and to consecrate the person (again) to Jesus by the (renewal) baptismal promises and reception of the Eucharist.

The blessing of the person and or ill region with the Eucharist, is recommended.

b. Deliverance prayer

The deliverance prayer session should not solely concentrate on deliverance from evil spirits but deliverance into the healing of a life lived for Jesus. The prayer session will involve the seven elements listed below:

1. Prayer of praise and protection

It helps to begin with praise and thanksgiving asking for protection on all present and over all we love. Ideally, a group of intercessors should also be at prayer during the session. The group should have a sense of peace and unity before continuing.

2. Prayer of discernment

Once there is peace, unity and focus on Jesus, He will reveal the next step and will show the presence of any spirits.

3. Binding of spirits

To insure that the healing and deliverance prayer are not blocked, all* spirits should be bound from drawing upon any evil assistance. They should also be bound whenever they act upon the person such as stirring up fear, confusion or agitation of any kind.* It could be necessary to name all the spirits which are discerned to be present. Active (also passive - for instance, predecessor up to the 3rd or 4th generation) occult practices have to be taken very seriously.

4. Confession

The person may need to forgive, renounce occult practices, repent and confess his sins.

5. Deliverance prayer

The evil spirit has to be commanded to go quietly in the name of Jesus, see "Introduction to Genuine Christian Life" - Appendix B/C.

6. Prayer for healing

The healing of the woundedness of the person is the focal point of the deliverance process and should take the most time. It is usually necessary to get at the root cause of the difficulty and pray for its healing. The person may need to forgive, renounce occult practices and repent of sins.

7. In-filling prayer

Prayer of thanksgiving for all that is happening and will happen, prayer for a (new) outpouring of the Holy Spirit - "Come Holy Spirit..." see ChCh; GCL

c. Follow-up

The delivered person has to be fully integrated into the Body of Christ. The delivered person will have to work through old temptations and feelings and will need support in order to do so. The delivered person has a new dimension of life in Christ that needs to be encouraged by prayer alone and with others. Spiritual growth may lead to the Spirit touching further areas in need of healing and deliverance. This should not be seen as regression - a further proper action should be taken with the guidance of the Spirit.

d. Exorcism

We will distinguish different degrees of diabolic actions upon human beings: Temptation - no one escapes this; infestation (which, for example, John M. Vianney experienced); external (my experience) and internal obsession, and finally diabolic possession.

Demonic bondage has different degrees - demonic possession is a total possession of a person by demon(s). In such cases we use the prayer of exorcism, see "The Teaching of the Church of Jesus the Christ" - Sacrament of penance.

One of the main difference between demonic burdening (deliverance ministry) and demonic possession (exorcism) is that in the latter the possessed person cannot usually participate in his deliverance - he is in such bondage that his free will is non- or almost non-existent. The exorcist(s) has to act for him.

The first step is a prayer to the mighty angel Michael - for his protection and his fighting cooperation.

Prayer: Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in our battle against principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places, Eph 6,12. Come to our assistance of whom God has created to His likeness and whom He has redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil. We pray that you may take hold of the dragon, the old serpent, which is the devil and satan, bind him and cast him away, Rev 20,2. Compare Dan 10,13.20.

Prayer: We pray to you Blessed Virgin Mary, blessed Apostles and Martyrs that you may stand by us with your intercession and support us in our spiritual battle.

Psalm 68,1: God arises; His enemies are scattered and those who hate Him flee before Him!

The Exorcism (using the sign of the cross):

We drive you from us, whoever you may be, unclean spirits (one may name the disclosed spirits), all satanic powers, all infernal invaders, all wicked legions, assemblies in the Name and by the power of Our Lord Jesus Christ (+) - you shall be snatched away and driven from the Church of God and from the souls made in the image and likeness of God and redeemed by the Precious Blood of the Divine Lamb (+). We especially command you now to leave this creation of the Almighty (name the person) - in the Name of the Father and Jesus Christ, His Son and the Holy Spirit (+). Amen!

Give place now to Christ in whom you have found none of your works; give place to the One Holy Apostolic Catholic Church of Jesus the Christ acquired by Jesus at the price of His Blood - flee now as we invoke the Name of Jesus (+).

V. O Lord, hear our prayer;

R. And let our (my) cry come unto you!

This prayer will be followed by the "in-filling prayer", see above.

The suggested follow up (see above) is also essential.

15. Understanding ourselves and others

In most areas of tension it is important to realize that the real differences are often due to feelings, our own and others and then the intellectual endeavor to solve them on a purely human level. Healthy Church (and Christian family) life depends on the ability to pray and discuss- listen together to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Truth can not be reached (discovered) neither by operating purely at the level of intellect or of feeling - the Holy Spirit will guide you into all the truths, Jn 16,13 (consult, if needed your spiritual advisor).

The reason we have breakdown of talks so often is because we rely solely on our selves and not on the Spirit - head, heart and divine guidance have to meet!

The first step is to locate prayfully the problem(s) - and solve it in prayer. It might be necessary, from time to time, to call an experienced Christian from the "outside", from an other congregation, who may help the process of healing the differences in our (church)-family.

16. Church and Security

Often the attraction of the Church is the security it appears to offer. Security lies ultimately in God and not in the Church. If we expect security from the Church as an institution then it is we who will kill her. It is our fallen human nature that we tend to conform but it is the Spirit which wants to transform.

Traditions are grown out of changes - out of freedom! But yesterday's freedom can become today's bonding! In this sense we also have to be careful with new traditions in which security has been found. It can create a fear-driven addiction which is bondage. While new freedoms may be explored to re-build the Body of Christ new traditions will be established. Claims by the Spirit-led are authenticated by their Spirit-fruits.

A healthy desire to respect the individual and to affirm the wide variety and tempo in Christian growth has to be coupled with the nurturing, encouraging and supporting the growth of a healthy authority - this will assure a healthy growth within the Christian community.

The Spirit is the One who will rock the boat to break it free from its manmade moorings. It is the Spirit given love which will cast out that fear which results in party spirit, division and mistrust. It is this gift of this same love which makes us see with sorrow our failure to love as an individual and as a Church.

Are you looking for the problem? The problem in the Church is the human part of the Church - you and me. The problem lies with me and not in you or them - first, you search your own heart! The other is God's gift to offset my own weakness!

What we all need first is to study 1 Cor 13

17. Christian Concept of Work - also a therapeutical concept

Work as God's will and charge

God will is that we work and contribute to the building up of the Church and society.

"Six days you shall do work," Ex 23,12.

"Every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor," 1 Cor 3,8.

"If any will not work, he shall not eat," 2 Thess 3,10.

"The laborer deserves his pay," Mt 10,10.

Unemployment leads to illness

Whoever fails his divine designation (in whatever sphere) will suffer mental, spiritual and or physical harm - one of God's mission is for man to work.

The state has an obligation to provide, directly or indirectly, employment.

Work as therapy

Work is a part of `living according to God's will.' Unemployment may cause sickness, meaningful and moderate work contributes to good health.

18. The Truth Makes Free

"The truth will make you free", Jn 8,32.

What is truth?

Truth is the conformity between the divine thought and the reality. The entire creation is a realization of divine thoughts. In this, man takes a special place. The Bible is also thoughts of God.

I live in the truth:

- When my spirit is led by the Holy Spirit - when my thoughts, words, deeds and my behavior corresponds to His norm and harmonizes with His thoughts;

- When my spiritual, mental and mental development corresponds to the divine idea.

19. What is Sickness?

Illness in the spiritual sphere is the consequence of

- an unrepented heart - there is no personal relationship to Jesus;

- transgressing the divine will - not observing the commandments of God, not fulfilling the task He has assigned to me.

Mental illness is often the consequence of

- negative influence of my environment and my reaction to it. A lack of love and safety by parents can, for instance, evoke hate and rejection.

Difficulties in regaining lost health/truth:

Every development and every progress is connected to fear - I have to leave something which I am familiar with and exchange it with an unknown - this is connected to resistance. The truth is, that the old has to go before the new can develop - the old man has to die in order that the new might be born.

How do I obtain the truth?

Our human development (stunted development too) is guided by our spirit( or the absence of it ). Only a human spirit which is adjusted to the Holy Spirit ("born again," see Jn 3,5) can obtain the healing truth of God.

Christian therapy is a spirit-therapy. A therapy without spiritual dimension, without Christian spiritual direction cannot possibly restore human integrity - half truth does not free - it binds!

Healing - we have to remind ourselves that in our fallen state is no such thing as a complete healing - the cross is a part of our existence!

Truth will free us step by step - this is a life-long process. To live in the truth means to strive for the truth - it is not an achieved condition but rather a process, a becoming.

The truth frees us to a spiritual, mental and physical integrity - it frees us to Christ, the ultimate aim of our life: "I am the truth," Jn 14,6.

20. Suffering from Christian Perspective

The Bible gives us manifold answers to the sense of suffering. Our basic question should not be the "why" but rather the "for what." Many Christians struggled through their suffering but are capable of saying Yes to life, to suffering, to their fellow man and even praised God: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our afflictions, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God", 2 Cor 1,3-4.

The roots of all suffering and ultimately death is sin.

Our free will is the "location" where we love or hate.

A. Illnesses -

B. Burdens

A.

a. Spiritual

This happens when a Christian deviate from the path God has determined for him. The only cure is found in returning to God's plans.

b. Physical

There are many reasons for a physical illness - ultimately it is the result of our fallen state. A physical illness can bring manifold blessings to a Christian:

- stock-taking - conversion

- through one's own experience we can understand and help others more easily

- illness stops us - we pause and ask what does God wants to tell us?                                                              return to the fold

Experience shows that growth takes place in spurts - between these spurts there are "pauses." These times are very important - a new phase of growth will be prepared.

Incurable illness:

We are speaking here about a very important "apostolic-work" - the apostolate of the ill; in other words illness can be an intercession. We Christians know that as a member of the Body we can (have to) intercede for our brethren. This interceding can have many different forms, verbal (prayer), non-verbal (fasting, works of charity) and offering up our illness for the benefit of other members of the Body or for different intentions of the Church, like the conversion of sinners, etc. The sickness itself will not be the decisive factor here but the free-will-intention - uniting the suffering with the suffering of Christ for the benefit of His purpose.

"Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church", Col 1,24:

- Paul is pleased that he can suffer (one of his illness was incurable, see 2 Cor 12,7-9);

- He joints his sufferings to the single sacrificial suffering of Christ: God will accept this in view of the merits of Christ. (This is the case for all other types of intercession too);

- He applies it to the Church.

Illness and sin:

Ultimately every illness is connected to sin - illness and death is a consequence of our fallen nature - we lost Paradise.

Although we cannot trace every illness to a specific sin, but there are certain sins which inevitably will lead to some kind of illness:

- Occult practices are doors for the evil one - he will make you ill, see chapter on the Occult.

- Drug abuse will lead to self-destruction:

"Resist the devil and he must flee", Jas 4,7. This statement shows how important our free will is. Anything or anyone who is interfering (reducing or eliminating) with our free will, will open us up for the forces of evil. Drugs are not just reducing our free will, they are also ruining our character, our mind and body.

Marijuana - (see p.45)

Our body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, see 1 Cor 6,19. Any Christian who disregard the presence of the Holy Spirit in him will lose Him.

Marijuana affects hormones that control sexual development, fertility, and sexual functioning in both sexes. This drug impairs short-term memory, alters sense of time, reduces concentration, swift reactions and coordination.

While marijuana may not directly cause mental problems like many other drugs, but it brings to the surface emotional problems and can trigger even more severe disorders.

There are some of the disorders we know of which were triggered (even if not caused directly) by the use of marijuana: Nervous disorientation, loss of faith, schizophrenia, epilepsy (illnesses where the organism [body - mind] destroys itself - a truly diabolical manifestation), etc., see "Church of Christ - People of God on the Way": Christian Counseling.

Other disturbing effect of marijuana use is its interference with growing up - it interferes with the development of adequate social skills and encourages a mental escapism.

The greatest danger is the opening up (see free will above) for evil influence, which will gradually lead the impenitent heart to lose the Holy Spirit. The loss of the Spirit will inevitably follow the inhabitation of evil spirits.

Aids (see p. 47): Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome - a viral infection in which the normal body defenses against infection are so weakened that the infected person cannot fight off other infections. This results in some forms of pneumonia and cancer that are fatal.

How did it come into the western world?

It spread by homosexual* (Sodomy, see Gn 19; Rom 1,26f) and bisexual men who had acquired it mainly by anal sexual intercourse.

Is it possible to be sure of not catching AIDS and still to enjoy a sexual relationship?

Yes! By committing oneself to only one sexual partner who has also never had other sexual partners. A lifetime commitment to marriage is the answer.

The biblical teaching supports chastity for men and women before marriage and fidelity in marriage with lifelong commitment. It also condemns sexual acts between people of the same sex.

* According to the Bible, homosexual activity originates in the mind and will of man. It is a chosen behavior. The commonly advocated cause by humanistic Psychology is a relationship defect in the family - we have to emphasize the unshakable truth that "not what people are doing to you will make you ill, but how you react of these influences": Hate or love; rebellion or obedience, etc. There are one cause of homosexuality known to us which is not (directly or indirectly) a freely chosen Introduction to Genuine Christian Life": Appendix.

c. Mental illness:

- Caused by the environment, through fellow man - developed through lack of love: Here the healing will often be experienced through the brethren - cured by love!

- It can have inherited roots

The answer might be - "Your will be done", Lk 22,42, see also Rom 8,28.

- It can have occult roots:

Deliverance is necessary, see "Church of Christ - People of God on the Way".

B.

a. Disappointments:

Many illnesses are caused by disappointments, or rather poor reaction to events that disappoint:

"My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage when you are rebuked of him", Hebr 12,5.

- Afflictions which are coming from the Lord:

to teach us (for instance, patience)

to purify us (God "prunes the branches", Jn 15,2)

to prepare us for His purpose, etc.

- Actions which bring about disappointment could be:

impatience

imprudence, etc.

Times of afflictions shows the firmness of our character.

Disappointments can show defects in ourselves.

They often show our limitations.

See 2 Cor 4,16-18.

b. Temptations:

A tunnel serves different important functions:

God remains faithful, see 1 Cor 10,13.

c. Family problems:

- Under certain circumstances, they can strengthen members of the family

- Under certain circumstances, they can lead to God

This conversion can also lead to persecution, see Mt 10,36;16,24-26.

d. Old age, see Ps 92,13f

One has to accept the restrictions and limitations that old age places upon our lives.

e. Death, see Phil 1,21f

- What is your reaction to death? Is it rebellion? Do you know better?

- For us Christians, death is the gate to eternal life!

"Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with burden, but he helps us also", Ps 68,19.

21. Fundamental Principles of Team-communication

Every team (community - Church-community) experiences problems and crisis-situations. There are constant attacks on the Christian community from within and without - we have to count on this. The important question is whether the community has "enough antibody," that is, bound by love to repel and conquer the intrusions. The community (life) has to be nurtured - praying, studying the Scriptures, caring for each others needs, etc.

Some important hints for strengthening the life of the individual Christian and the Christian Church-community.

a. Walk in the light

"If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another", 1 Jn 1,7.

It is important that every team member walks in the Light - if one of the members does not walk in the Light, the entire "organism" will suffer the consequences. If the community (house-church) has difficulties, the first step is to acknowledge, that we have a problem, that every one of us, in some way, has contributed to it - do not point your finger at anyone, start the search within yourself: We (I) failed and not you failed, is the attitude which will bring about a solution.

Looking at it from the positive side - a problem (individual or team) can also be a real opportunity to deepen relationships and help to mature spiritually. Again - the starting point is oneself - I have to change my communication, my behavior and I have to grow in love.

b. "We have fellowship with one another"

One of the strongest expression of fellowship is communication. What do we mean by communication? Speaking, listening, praying-together - verbal and non-verbal communication. Where communication stops community ceases to exist.

What do we have to observe by communication?

b/a. Communication means to communicate-one-self.

Many people do not have the desire to communicate. Introverted people and people with certain kinds of mental/spiritual problems will have great difficulties in expressing themselves. The first step is a decision (an act of will and not an act of feeling) - "I will communicate, even if it is not my apparent need."

To be silent can also be an expression of egoism - "for what I do not have a need, I will not do."

Silence can also serve as a weapon - it can be a means to punish others (consciously or sub-consciously). In this situation the taciturn person plays the role of the judge, he is self-righteous, believes that he is right and prevents the possibility of solving the problem.

"First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye", Lk 6,42.

b/b. The different forms of communication:

Verbal - using language in direct communication with others or in prayer (together), communicating via God.

Non-verbal - the language of the body and of behavior.

Double-message - the verbal and non-verbal communication disagreeing with each other - the worst type of communication.

Listening - is an essential part of communication:

The sense of real communication is to know and encounter the other person - this is impossible without real listening.

Real listening is impossible when:

- one believes they know what the other will say, to begin with;

- one passes judgment on the other, to begin with;

- one hears what one wants to hear;

- one does not let the other speak;

- while "listening" the "right" answer will be formulated;

- one forces his will on the other;

- one is not willing to accept the other;

- one centers around himself.

Genuine listening is an expression of love.

b/c. The content of the conversation

It is important to start all conversations (especially difficult ones) with a prayer. By trying to solve differences, we have to be sensitive, approach the partner with respect - he/she is a fellow member of the same Body! Pay attention when asking questions that

- possibly the full answer will not come immediately

- you give sufficient time to reflect

- you yourself remain calm and do not convey double-messages

- you remain in love

- you are really listening.

Take sufficient time. The right time and place is not unimportant.

c. The right time

"There is a time for everything," Eccl 3,1(f), also for talking and problem-solving. It may be better to postpone a conversation (tired, rushed, etc.), but do not put it off "forever." `Sensitive' conversations should be planned - prepare oneself for it.

d. "A soft answer turns away wrath", Prov 15,1.

Anger is not a good advisor! Keep to the subject and do not turn against the person.

Let your partner know that you respect his/her feelings and keep your own negative feelings in check.

e. The place of the conversation

The first step is an eye to eye encounter, see the biblical advise Mt 18,15f.

It should not be in public - the place should be a quiet one, where there are no disturbances (no telephone).

"The blood of Jesus cleanses us," 1 Jn 1,7

The consequence of such a deep conversation is inevitably the recognition of guilt - not just "his" guilt but mine also! This guilt must be confessed that the "Blood of Jesus" may cleanse it.

It is also important that the parties involved make a serious resolution to change - perhaps they can encourage each other on the path of spiritual maturing. Forgiving is an absolute necessity - I need God's mercy, I have to forgive also - forgiving is an act of will!!!

22. Growth

The human being is of three parts - body, soul and spirit.

We cannot expect, in our fallen state that our growth will be without difficulties and that it will be perfect. Let us look at some of the difficulties which we encounter in mind and spirit - we will not discuss the biological difficulties of growth.

Some of the concepts:

God's word and man, see Hebr 4,12.

The body takes over the manifold functions of communication with the environment; it is also the vehicle of moving and performing.

The soul: The life-functions of a man will be determined by the soul. For this reason the souls (psyche) is identified in the Bible with life.

Some of its functions:

- Intellect - "wisdom is sweet to your soul," Prov 24,14

- Feeling - "My soul is exceeding sorrowful," Mt 26,38

- Will - "My soul refuses to touch," Jb 6,7

The spirit: The genuine development of a person comes from the spirit - the developmental process is conveyed to the soul and the body. But because God respects the freedom of the person, He turns to the will - therefore the soul is partaking in all spiritual happenings.

Some of its functions:

- Conscience - "The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all his innermost parts", Prov 20,27

- Knowledge (perception) of God - "It is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God", Rom 8,16

- Union with God - "My spirit rejoices in God my Savior", Lk 1,47

23. Psychotherapy and Christian Counseling

The secular psychotherapy is two dimensional - soul and body. It has no concept of the "spirit" in a Christian sense.

Christian counseling is three dimensional - body, soul and spirit. The central position of the human spirit (described above) makes it obvious that a therapy without dealing with the spiritual problems will never lead to the restoration of the integrity of any human being.

The Fall of man

The root of all illness lies in the Fall of man - any therapy which does not reckon with that basic fact, must fail.

The soul and the spirit is the object of every Christian therapy. Soul and spirit are connected so intimately with each other that a therapy of the one without the other is fruitless - the Church is also equipped with the healing of the body (the gift of healing); Working with a Christian physician is however recommended.

Developmental disturbances

a. The souls - mental disturbances

The relationship between parents and children will determine greatly the mental development of the child, at least in the early stages of its life. Some of the roots of false developments are

- Lack of devotion

- Lack of maturity of the parents- The parents are not able to let the child go (gradually) - cut the umbilical cord, the child can not develop properly

- Lack of love - the child cannot experience his/her own value, lack of self esteem. Love is the nourishment of the soul - without it stunted growth is guaranteed: Infantilism, inferiority, unable to relate, etc.

Nature shows us that buds can develop only when the leaves fall off - we may say that the falling off of the old makes new life possible. In the law of mental health we have a similar law - let go and new will spring up. This releasing and new-growing is a continual process which accompanies us (our spiritual and mental development) throughout all of our lives.

Enemies of our development:

- Fear of the unknown - even then when this "new" promises great things

- Fear of loss

- Growth is connected with pain and resistance

How to encounter these difficulties:

- First we have to know what ails us

- The difficulties have to be dealt with - seek the guidance (counselor) of the Holy Spirit.

- The patient's active cooperation is required - striving for change (in behavior, communication, etc.)

The spiritual counselor engages himself in (through) conversation with the consulted, helping him to discover his shortcomings and in prayful consideration supports him by encouraging the changing of his behavior - the counselor becomes a model - father, mother, a person on whom the client can grow.

b. Disturbances in the spiritual sphere

It is superfluous to say that Christian therapy for non-Christians is fruitless. The first step here is to strive for the conversion of the client - he has to be integrated into a house-church and start his catechumenat. Therapy can begin after this initial commitment.

There are important concepts which the counselor and the consulted have to understand before counseling can be conducted meaningfully. Here are some of them: The Holy Trinity, redemption, Church, offices, gifts, sin, demonic burdening, confession, liberation, conversion, "born again".

All spiritual and ultimately all mental and physical illnesses have their origin in the Fall of man - in sin.

The following should be considered:

1. One of the main concerns of the spiritual advisor whilst accompanying his becoming-Christian is to keep his eyes on the parable of Jesus, Mt 13,3f. New life, also spiritual life, is more endangered then a mature one. Many people die a spiritual death scarcely before they were born - the devil robs the new Christians of the Word of God - cares of the world, riches, deceit of lusts, etc.

2. Incomplete conversion: Feelings-centered conversion, false expectations, the power of sin not broken, etc.

3. Demonic dependence not solved - prayer of deliverance.

4. Problems in spiritual sphere often caused by mental problems:

- The non-committed Christian - fear of obligation, authority-complex, etc.

- The disappointed Christian - immaturity, inferiority complex (hidden pride), etc.

- Christians who will not fit into the Christian community - strong egocentricity, etc.

In the first place, help must come from the Word of God:

- The Word is literally a nourishment for the spirit and indispensable for the growth of the same. It has also a purifying effect, Jn 15,3; giving direction and protection. The Bible has to be regularly read and studied - privately and in the house-church.

- Forgive

- Confession - obtaining forgiveness

- Dissolving all demonic bonding - prayer of deliverance

- "Be filled with the Spirit", Eph 5,18, is a command! The Scripture appeals to the decision of will upon which the "filling" with the Holy Spirit can happen. The initiative is by the Spirit but we have to contribute to it by opening ourselves (free will) to the Spirit of God.

5. Adoration and praise: God is never closer than when we praise and adore Him.

6. Intercession: It is important that the "troubled" Christian learns to intercede on a regular basis - turning away from himself (ego) and turning to others (You) - practiced love.

7. Obedience is one of the indispensable pre-conditions for spiritual restoration and development. Obedience towards the Spirit of God often comes by obeying the lawful Church-authorities.

Conclusion:

Christian therapy requires a healthy spiritual background - the Church of Jesus the Christ. The counselor and his client have to be integrated into the local congregation.

Christian therapy is not the task of an isolated individual, a specialist, but rather the work of a spiritual advisor who is a "co-worker" within (of) the congregation, having the gift and knowledge of healing and working closely with the Church and her officers. Christian therapy is an active and committed communion of Christians.

24. Parents and Adult "Children"

God doesn't really give us our children - He only loans them to us for a season. There comes a time when we must be to our children what God the Father is to each of us.

Many Christians pay too much attention to what works and too little to what is right. What is right may or may not work. We live in a moral universe made by a righteous God and inhabited by creatures who have often chose the opposite of what He wished.

We ought not to base our relationship with our children on any supposed results of the relationship but on what is right. If God's greatest desires for His creatures have not always been fulfilled, our desires for our children may not always be fulfilled either. It is better that we aim at being godly parents even though we may fail to produce perfect children.

If God "wept" over rebellious humanity, then we at times may have to grieve over rebellious children.

God's attitude as a parent combines loving care and instructions with a refusal to force our obedience. He longs to bless us, yet He will not cram blessings down our throats. Our sins and rebellions cause Him grief, and in His grief He will do much to draw us back to Himself.

We must not give you a wrong impression:

God disciplines to teach, and punishes as an act of parental justice - children will never understand grace unless they first discover the law. If we persist in our wrongdoing God will let us find by the pain of bitter experience that it would have been better to obey Him.

To step back does not mean to abandon your children or neglect your responsibilities toward them, nor to relinquish the authority you need to fulfill those responsibilities. It means, however, to release them back to God; to abandon those controls that arise from needless fears or from selfish ambitions.

We should relinquish our children even before we have them - Mary, the Mother of Jesus did.

Some parents give their children more than they need. Unconsciously they may want to realize in their children's lives something they failed to realize in their own - they fail to recognize that the life they were (are) dreaming about was (is) not their own but their children's - or better, God's.

Children bring joy as well as pain - we, as God's children also.

Give up the right to possess the children - God is The Father.

Help them to pass on to their children whatever you have given to them.

Teach them to express gratitude.

Allow your children to face pain, tragedy and even death - allow them to accept the effects of their own actions.

It may be hard to know when a child should accept full adult responsibility, but the process must begin with a willingness on your part to let your children discover that fire burns.

As they get older you will become their counselor - and just that.

We are to be to our children what God the Father is to each of us. The father of the prodigal son reflects that sort of parenthood:

- The father let his younger son go;

- He continued to live in faith, hope and love:

"While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion of him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him," Lk 15,20.

You don't identify your son when he is "still a long way off" unless you happen to be looking for him, staring at the horizon in hope.

That is how God is with us. He lets us choose. Then He "swallows" His pain and waits. Let us ask Him to search our parental hearts and make them like His own.

25. Our Christian Foundations

b. Jesus and His Ministry

Jesus is the central character of the centuries: He captured the allegiance of millions of people - they called themselves by His name: "Christians," Acts 11,26.

The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus wrote a history of his own people: He spoke about the stoning in A.D. 62 of James, the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ (see Jewish Antiquities).

The Roman historians:

Suetonius: "Punishment by Nero was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition."

Tacitus: "But the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time, broke out again, not only through Judea where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also" (see Annals, p.423).

Lucian described Jesus as "the man who was crucified in the Land of the Jews because he introduced this new cult into the world" (see The Passing of Peregrinus, p.13).

The Apostle Paul    

Corinthians 11,23;15,3

The Evangelist Luke 1,1-4

Who is Jesus?

"No man ever spoke like this man", Jn 7,46

"A man of sorrow", Is 53,3Matthew 18,2

Matthew 9,36;14,14 - Mark 3,5; Luke 19,45

Matthew 8,2; Luke 5,13

Matthew 11,19 - Mark 1,35

Matthew 23,1-28 - John 8,11

Matthew 4,18-22 - 16,24

Luke 19,10; Matthew 20,28; John 10,1-18

Revelation 3,20

The uniqueness of Jesus

1 Peter 2 21-24

Mark 3,1-6

Matthew 11,28-30

John 8,7-11

Hebrews 4,15

The relevance of Jesus: God was working in Jesus in such a way that His life would enable us to triumph in ours, see Jn 1,12; 2 Cor 5,19.

The historical Jesus

- "Before the world was created, the Word already existed..." see Jn 1,1-4.14

- His supernatural birth, Is 7,14; Mt 1,18; Lk 1,34-35

- His early childhood, Lk 2,21.22-24(f); Mt 2,1-12.13-15.23; Lk 2,39-52

- His teenage years; His years as a young adult - Nazareth lies fifteen miles (24 km) west of the Sea of Galilee. We do not have any direct written evidence of these "silent" years, but His teachings (parables) show indirectly what he has learned, experienced, observed, etc.:

- The village wedding, Lk 14,8

- The irritable local magistrate, Lk 18,1-8

- Unemployed men idly standing around the street corner, Mt 20,3

- A country boy who took his money and went off to the big city, only to return home penniless, Lk 15,11-24

- He spoke of flocks, herds and crops, Lk 15,1-7;12,16-21; of farmers vines, olives, figs, oaks and walnut trees, Mk 13,28-31; Lk 21,29-33

- He knew about mustard seed, farmers who wasted seed, scarlet poppies, the sun and rain on the corn, the lilies of the field and the sparrows of the air, Lk 13,18-19;8,5-8; Mt 6,25-30; Lk 12,22-31

The Christ

Mt 16,16!

Jesus, Hebrew Joshua, Mt 1,21

Lord - is the acknowledgement of His right and rule over the life of all, Acts 2,36; Rom 1,4;10,9, etc.

The ministry of Jesus

John the Baptist, Lk 3,2-18

The baptism of Jesus, Mk 1,9-11

The temptation of Jesus, Mt 4,1

a. The temptation took three forms:

- To misuse the power He had been rightly promised by God

- To manipulate His unique relationship with God

- To magnify His own rather than God's greatness

b. The nature of the temptation:

1. The first temptation, Mt 4,3-4 - the seduction was to seek an economic answer for mankind's deepest problems.

2. The second temptation, Mt 4,5-6 - to gather a crowd by being an instant celebrity; to impress the gullible to become His followers.

3. The third temptation, Mt 4,8-10 - at the time of the First Coming Christ's Kingdom did not belong to this world, Jn 18,36-37. His First Coming was not the coming of the expected political Messiah - He came to save mankind from their sins, from satan.

The Disciples

The location - the Sea of Galilee and Capernaum, a frontier town, an area being an international crossroad: A key military road from Syria to Egypt; an intersection for the great caravan routes going east and west.

The candidates - most of the disciples were simple men.

The Apostles, Mt 10,2f:

Simon Peter, Mt 16,16-19; Acts 2,14f;10;15,7f; Lk 22,54f, etc.

Peter always heads the list of the Apostles - `Primus inter pares'.

Peter was volatile by temperament, yet he did more to establish the Church after Pentecost than many others. He was a man of strength and courage, willing to risk death itself in order to serve Christ, and yet in crucial moments he failed Him.

He traveled widely and preached throughout the Roman Empire, particularly in Asia Minor, Greece and Italy. In Rome he was crucified upside down, because he protested that he was not worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord.

Andrew, Jn 1,40;6;9;12,22

He was the first believer, the `protoclete', which is Greek for `first called'. Every time that Andrew is mentioned in Scripture, he is introducing someone to Jesus. He was a friendly person. After the resurrection he spent most of his life preaching in Scynthia, north of the Black Sea. He was crucified in Macedonia, north of Greece, in the shape of an `X', known to us as St. Andrew's Cross.

James and John

were the sons of Zebedee, Mk 3,17 - they were fishermen.

Zebedee was a wealthy fisherman. He owned some of the larger ships. James and John immediately left their nets when Jesus called them to follow Him.

James was the first of the Twelve to be executed for his faith, Acts 12,2. He was close to his brother John and they are always mentioned together. They were tempestuous men, "the Sons of Thunder", Mk 3,17.

Such was the profound influence of Jesus on John that the Son of Thunder ended up being known as the Apostle of Love. John is the writer of the fourth Gospel and the Book of Revelation.

As a very old man, John still ministered to Christians in Asia Minor and was exiled to the island of Patmos, Rev 1,9. He is the only disciple who died a natural death. His body was taken to Ephesus where it was buried.

Bartholomew, Nathanael, Jn 1,45.47

He was a man of integrity. Jesus called him a "great Israelite; there is nothing false about him".

He took the Gospel to Albania.

James, Mt 10,3

A son of Alpheus. He preached in Persia and was crucified there.

Judas, Jn 14,22

Judas Thaddeus, the son of James. He was a close friend of Jesus, carrying the faith into the far land of Mesopotamia where, in the large cities, he proclaimed that Jesus was the Son of God. He was strongly opposed and eventually slain, by being beaten with clubs and stones in the city of Berito.

Matthew also known as Levi, Lk 5,27(f)

worked for the Roman government, collecting tolls and taxes at the various crossroads and caravan routes. He made his living by charging an excess over the tax due as the caravans came in and out of the city of Capernaum. The Jews hated these men who collected the taxes on behalf of the Romans - any money handled by a tax collector was declared unclean.

Matthew owned his own house, was fairly well-to-do and was an educated man. His Gospel is one of the most influential pieces of literature in all of history. It was placed at the beginning of the New Testament because it shows how Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament hopes and ideas.

Matthew spent his later years preaching the Gospel in Parthia and Ethiopia, where he was martyred.

Philip, Jn 1,43.45;6,7

He was a disciple who is pictured as asking questions. He was a man of great faith. One of his companions on his missionary journeys was Joseph of Arimathea. He ended his life by being crucified in the city of Hierapolis.

Simon the Zealot, Lk 6,15

The Zealots were a Jewish sect known for their murderous attitudes towards Roman sympathizers. He was a man of intense patriotic feelings (How did he and the tax collector Matthew discover that they were brothers?) - there have been many since who have found political, racial and other barriers could be overcome when they acknowledged the Lordship of Christ.

Simon preached throughout Africa and Egypt, where he was crucified for his faith.

Thomas

who said "Unless I see the scars of the nails in his hands and put my fingers on those scars and my hand in his side, I will not believe", Jn 20,25, also made one of the simplest but greatest declaration of faith - "My Lord and my God!", Jn 20,28. Thomas doubted in order that we who followed might not doubt.

He became a missionary in India and was martyred there for his faith. He is buried at Mylapore, a suburb of Madras. Today his name is carried on in the Indian church named after him, the Church of Mar Toma.

Matthias - chosen after the suicide of Judas, Acts 1,26

Like the others, he witnessed the resurrection and preached faithfully, dying ultimately in Mesopotamia.

Judas Iscariot, Mk 3,19

Judas was a lonely figure, the only Judean among all of the Galileans.

Judas acted as treasurer for the group and he misused it, Jn 12,4-6. See also, Mt 26,24;27,5.

Why did Jesus chose these men?

- Because His work had to g o o n

- Because His work had to g o o u t

It is estimated that by the time of the death of the last Apostle, John, there were more than one million believers throughout the known world.

Jesus chose His Apostles by

- invitation

- education

- authorization

The choosing of the Twelve and the Seventy, Lk 10,1f, has also great significance for the End Time Church.

The task, Mt 28,19-20.

The teaching of Jesus

- was informal, Mt 5,1

- colorful, Mt 9,15;11,17; Lk 5,34-35;9,59-60; Mt 11,16;9,16; Lk 5,36;

Lk 11,5-8;15,8; Mt 6,26.28.30-33;7,9-10;

- authoritative, Mt 7,28-29

- simple, direct, motivational - words used like, "go", "tell", "heal",

"come", "love", "pray", "forgive"- about how we are to live right now, Mt 18,23-24; Lk 16,1-9; Mk 12,31; Lk 10,27; Mt 7,1.15

Jesus took the Old Testament scroll, read from them and gave the traditional passage a new meaning, Lk 4,17-21, see Is 61,1-2.

The content of His teaching

a. God

God for the Jewish mind is: Creator, Provider, Guide, Judge and Defender.

Jesus' new meaning of God is Father, Mt 5,16;6,9, that is, "Abba", loving Father. Love is God's central characteristic. God is not only loving, He is also good. For us, to live a life of goodness was to live in conformity to His will - the most fulfilled and effective kind of life.

b. Ourselves

The teaching of Jesus about how we are to live is summarized best in the Sermon of the Mount, Mt 5-7. There He discussed that:

- Happiness was not found in things that we possess, but in the way we live.

- True contentment consists in living a life of humility and dependence on God, in showing mercy, being pure in heart, working for people and turning others' persecution to good effects.

Jesus showed the contrast between the Old Law given by the prophets and the New Law He gave His disciples. This included how we should handle our anger against others, about committing sexual adultery with our mind as well as our body, about the one basis for divorce (see NTC) and about checking those feelings of revenge that can inwardly destroy us.

Jesus spoke positively about the way we were to do acts of charity and how God rewards deeds of goodness done anonymously.

He taught us about praying and fasting, and not being anxious or worried about our possessions, Mt 6,25-34; about our relationship with other people - about not looking down upon them, but instead judging people as we do trees by the fruit they produce, Mt 7,15-20.

Jesus told a parable about people building identical houses. Looking at them one could not tell the difference, except that when storms came and floods washed against their foundations it was found that one house had been built upon sand and collapsed, while the other was built upon rock and stood the test of the storm.

The parables could usually be understood at two levels, see as an example Mt 13.

There are forty parables of Jesus that are preserved for us.

c. The Kingdom of God

There are more than one hundred references to the Kingdom of God in the four Gospels.

The Kingdom of God was seen in three aspects:

1. The Kingdom as it was expressed in Judaism - Jewish teaching about the coming of the Messiah.

2. God dwelling in the heart of every believer. His Kingdom would be wherever a person allowed God to reign in His life, Lk 17,21.

We cannot bring the Kingdom of God into the World until we bring it into our own heart first.

3. The Kingdom is not only within you but has (will have) an outward, visible dimension, see WT - the Millennium.

d. New Life

A life so distinct that it is "born anew", Jn 3,3.

e. Sin and salvation

Most people will list wrong actions;

In essence, sin is our separation from God - our failure to do His will.

The healing of Jesus

He is the Great Physician, Lk 4,18b-19.

The forgiveness of sin and the healing of disease are bound together, Ps 103,2-3.

"Savior" means to make whole: Mentally, spiritually and physically.

"Your sins are forgiven" was frequently the prelude to "Go in peace, and be healed of your trouble", Lk 7,48; Mk 5,34.

The Healer

Jesus recognized the worth of a person

Jesus had compassion for the hurting

Our faith unlocks God's grace, Lk 7,50;8,48

The miracles of Jesus

What is a miracle? A miracle is an intentional act of power showing evidence of divine intervention, for a spiritual purpose, transcending the usual observed laws of nature.

The miracles recorded in the Bible are associated with one of the following three aspects:

1. Nature miracles, Jn 2,1-12; Lk 8,23-25;9,12-17

2. Miracles concerning human life, Jn 11,1-44

3. Healing of bodily disease, see above

Right understanding of miracles: Jesus was quite convinced that no amount of miracle-making could lead people to a true understanding of God.

Miracles are basic to Christianity. The greatest miracle of all is that God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son.

Our conversion, rebirth and salvation are in themselves miracles of God's grace.

To accept Jesus as Lord is to accept He had power over the world in which we live.

The lifestyle of Jesus

- His simple lifestyle:

When Jesus emphasized a simple lifestyle free from distracting possessions, Mt 6,19-21, He also claimed that our minds and emotions should likewise be freed: "Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor; the kingdom of heaven belongs to them", Mt 5,3 - we have to be humble in our attitude.

- His absolute trust:

Jesus believed that God would provide for our needs. He urged us to pray: "Give us this day our daily bread", Mt 6,11.

There is a vital difference between needs and wants. He urged us to pray for bread, not pavlova! Mt 6,31-34

Jesus was convinced that God honored those who trusted in Him.

Jesus not only trusted God to provide, but learnt to accept the gifts and support of other people. There is an important balance here. Many of us need to live simply in order that we might serve others. Others need to give sacrificially to enable more service to be completed.

- His sacrificial service, Mk 10,43-45.

From Jesus we learn that no person stands higher than when he or she stoops to serve.

- His unconditional love, Lk 10,27.

True, caring love also forgives other people. Jesus strongly emphasized that a forgiving attitude towards others would be part of our loving concern for them, Mt 5,38-42; Lk 23,34.

Who was Jesus?

"Who do you say that I am?" Mt 16,15. This is the question we all must answer for ourselves.

- The pre-existent Agent of Creation, Jn 1,2-3.10-12; Hebr 1,2-3

- The Son of God, Jn 3,16-17; Rom 1,2-4

- The King of the Jews, Lk 1,31-33

- Great Teacher, Mk 1,21-22

- The Master to follow, Mt 16,24-25; Lk 9,57-62. At base, Christianity is not a system of belief, a code of ethics or a creed of doctrine which needs to be accepted or believed. At base Christianity is accepting the friendship of Jesus and following Him when He calls. Our obedience to His teaching follows our acceptance of His friendship.

- The Savior who can forgive sins, Mk 2,1-12; The redeeming Savior, 1 Cor 15,3.45-47; 1 Tim 1,15;

- The Messiah promised by the prophets, Jn 1,1-3;8,54-59

- The complete revelation of God, Jn 6,35;8,12;11,25-26;13,13-15;15,5;10,9.11; 14,6; Rev 1,8

- The resurrected Lord, Acts 2,36;7,56

- The Christian's friend - those who follow Him belong to a new group of people, which is the Church of His Body, Rom 12,3-5; 1 Cor 12,12-31. His friends received His constant Consolation, the Holy Spirit, Jn 14,15-17.

- The returning King - "Maranatha" ("Our Lord come"), 1 Cor 16,22, is the greeting of all true Christians. We are breaking the Bread "until he comes", 1 Cor 11,26, also The Witness of the Times (WT).

The death of Jesus

- His decision, Mt 16,21; Jn 10,17-18

- Jesus in Jerusalem, Mk 11,15-18

- The Last Supper: At this Supper, four significant events occurred:

- The betrayal of Judas, Mt 26,15.48-49

- The washing of the Apostles' feet, Jn 13,2-20

- The last conversation (instructions), Jn 14,15-17

- The Consecration and commissioning, Mt 26,26-29; Lk 22,19-20

- Trial and crucifixion:

- The Garden of Gethsemane, Mk 14,32-42; Jn 18,2-11

- Gabbatha or the pavement of judgment, Jn 18,12-24; Mk 14,53-65;15,6-10.11-12.13-15; Mt 27,24-25

- Golgotha - Jesus spoke seven times, Lk 23,34.43; Jn 19,26-27; Mt 27,46; Jn 19,28.30; Lk 23,46

- The garden tomb, Lk 23,50-54

The meaning of Christ's death:

From the tomb there rose more than had been planted. A new beginning was coming and, with the new dawn, came life and hope for mankind.

Through the cross we had been freed from the bondage of sin and ransomed from the power of evil.

Jesus died in our place as a substitute for us, taking upon Himself the punishment due to us for our disobedience to God.

The cross reveals not only the depth of mankind's antagonism to God, but also the extent God went to in bringing us back.

The resurrection of Jesus

There is an old Jewish saying: `Everyone has two homes: The place where he now lives and Jerusalem' - this is the saying also of all true Christians (see WT - Only one true "apostolic" Church) - we are all looking to the City of God and for the Return of the resurrected Lord.

Jesus was resurrected by the power of God and brought to a new level of life - Christian resurrection is also a recreation to a new order of life.

What is resurrection:

- Jewish thought, Jb 19,23-27

- Christian thought, 1 Thess 4,13f

Who witnessed the resurrection?

Mt 28,1f; Mk 16,1f; Lk 24,1f.13-32.34; Jn 20,15-16.19-23;21,1-22; Acts 5,29-32.

What does the resurrection mean?

- A sign of God's love and acceptance

- An sign of forgiveness and eternal life

- A fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, Acts 2,14-36;26,22-23

- A guarantee of our own resurrection, 1 Cor 15,17-20

The life of Jesus today

The mission, Mt 28,16-20; Acts 1,8

The Holy Spirit, Jn 14,16.17.26; Rom 12,3-8; 1 Cor 12,1-31; Gal 5,22-23

The Church, see WT - Only one true "apostolic" Church

The Return of Christ - there are many references in Scripture to the return of Jesus to this earth, e.g. Jn 14,3; Acts 1,11; 1 Thess 1,10; 2 Thess 1,5-10; 1 Cor 16,22; Rev 19,11f;20,4f;22,20, see WT - Christ's coming.

The Early Church believed in an imminent, visible and dramatic return of Jesus...it did (could) not happen, see WT.

We continue to wait for His coming, watching the signs of the times and greeting each other: "Maranatha", 1 Cor 16,22.

c. Paul the Apostle and his Ministry

Introduction

Paul, the Apostle, the prototype for all Apostles, directly chosen by the resurrected Christ - his life, his ministry and generally speaking his activities are guidelines for the Apostles of the End Time.

The Preacher

The preaching-field of the Apostle was the world - private homes, synagogues (churches), public halls and in the open air.

Paul approached his listeners there where they were! and led them to Jesus Christ. He started with something which was relevant to his hearers (see Acts 17,22-31), which they all knew and understood.

His most important teaching subjects:

- The righteousness of God, Rom 1,16f;5,20f; Eph 2,7f;

- The love of God, Rom 5,8-9

- The uniqueness of Christ, Phil 2,6-11; 1 Cor 2,2 - Christianity is never a code of behavior, or an article of belief; it is a living relationship `in Christ'.

- The sinfulness of man, Rom 3,22-26;5,12-21

- Christ - the wisdom and power of God, 1 Cor 1,25-30

- The living Christ, Acts 22,8

- The power of the Cross, 1 Cor 1,17f, also the cross as a present experience: Rom 6,16-18; Phil 2,12f - Our human effort is no condition of salvation, but is a consequence of it.

- Salvation of all who have faith Eph 2,12-16. Alienation has been overcome by reconciliation; condemnation has been annulled by justification; human guilt has been cleansed by expiation through Christ's Blood.

- Justified by God's grace through faith, Rom 1,16-17 - our a. justification by faith is not salvation by belief, but salvation through the saving righteousness of God through incorporation into Christ Jesus (sanctification, see TChJCh - The Teaching of Grace) by an active decision of our will, evidenced through our response of faith and baptisms. b. Adoption, Eph 1,5; c. Mediation, 1 Tim 2,5-6; d. Expiation, propitiation, Rom 3,25; e. Redemption, Rom 8,22-23; f. Reconciliation, Rom 5,1; g. Sanctification, 1 Cor 6,11.

- The Spirit within, Joel 2,28

- Christian life in the Spirit - the Spirit is a. the Guarantee, 2 Cor 1,21-22; b. the Seal, 2 Cor 1,22; c. the Helper, Rom 8,26; d. the Source of all life, Rom 8,10.

While the believer lives in the flesh, he also lives in the Spirit - heaven and earth meet in the believer.

- Transformed life, Eph 2,2f - The Christian is already a new-born person, but he must strive to become what he already is.

- The question of the Law

a. Our righteousness does not lie in our obedience to the Law, but in our faith in what Christ has accomplished for us, Gal 3,5

b. Christ superseded the Law and established the New Covenant, Lk 22,20

- The Church - a. The Body of Christ, 1 Cor 12,27; b. the Bride of Christ, Eph 5,22-27; c. the Household of God, Eph 2,19-21. God does not necessarily need our ability but rather our availability.

- The question of circumcision, Acts 15,7-11

- The question of legalism: A Christian is not saved by the good deeds he does, but because he has been saved he must devote his life to good deeds, see Romans.

Paul developed the concepts of adoption into the Family of God which he had borrowed from the human family; the concept of our emancipation from the bondage of sin, which he took from slavery; the concept of propitiation, from the idea of sacrifice; the concept of reconciliation (to restore to friendship; to make harmonious, to bring to acceptance) from the idea of friendship; and justification developed from the law courts.

- The grace of God, Eph 2,8-9 - God's mercy is such that He chooses to save those who believe in Christ.

- The preaching of the Gospel, 1 Cor 9,16

- The significance of weakness, 2 Cor 12,8-10 - The cross itself was paradoxical, for what was the sign of rejection with men was the sign of acceptance with God. The cross was evidence of futility, but because of God's grace it became the great symbol of man's future. What was the sign of guilt became the emblem of innocence.

- The right love of people, Col 1,28

- The future hope, Rom 8,39

The pastor

The dangers and pressures of his ministry:

- The physical dangers, 2 Cor 11,23-28

- The burden of the churches, Gal 4,11.19

- The pressures of managing the church, Acts 14,21; Rom 15,19-24

- Theological conflicts, Acts 13,45;24,5-9; Phil 3,18-19

- Cultural conflicts, Rom 1,14f; 1 Cor 10,32f

- Distress at failing members, Acts 15,36-40

- Pressures from a materialistic society, Acts 17,16- The pressures from the demands of disturbed and difficult people, Acts 14, 8-11.19; 13,45

- The pain of constant rejection, 2 Tim 1,15

What enabled the Apostle to cope under such pressure?

- He accepted God's call for him, Rom 11,13

- He believed in the significance of his work, Acts 20,24; Rom 15,15-17

- He committed his life to the work of the Gospel, 2 Cor 4,8-9.16

- He disciplined his desires, 1 Thess 2,9; 2 Thess 3,7-8

- He fashioned a bond of caring with his people, Acts 20,36-38

- He gained strength from the support of his friends, Rom 16

- He held fast to the scriptures, Hebrews

- He lived boldly, 2 Cor 5,6f

- He did not carry false guilt, Acts 18,5-6

The Apostle's cross-cultural ministry:

The church is only the Church when she is the Church in mission. The Church is God's agent on earth through which God expresses Himself to the world - God has no other redeeming agency. When people are called to come to Christ, they are called to come to His Body, the community of believers, to take His message to all others, see Acts.

Some obvious criterions:

- Do you have received the Holy Spirit?

- Do you love the Lord sufficiently to leave family, friends, security to take His message to somewhere else?

- Can you relate to other people of different cultures, races, languages, etc.?

- Can you communicate your faith with people?

- Can you live a fairly rugged, independent life?

- Are you willing to serve, not counting the cost?

- Do you have the necessary skills to fulfill the call of the Lord?

The Apostle as agent of change

- All mankind shared an inability to be right with God and a susceptibility to sin - there is no reason for racism: Everyone has sinned and is far away from God's saving presence, Eph 2,11-16. Paul was preaching a new nationhood - one people under God.

- Equality between man and women - respecting the God given differences, 1 Cor 11,3; Eph 5,22f.

- Freedom of man, see his practical standing on slavery, Phil 15-17. Paul was a quiet revolutionary.

The Protagonist

The causes of the clashes:

- The question of the Law:

a. Our righteousness does not lie in our obedience to the Law, but in our faith in what Christ has accomplished for us.

b. The Law was to bring us to faith in Christ and consequently our allegiance is to the person of Christ and not to the Law.

c. Christ superseded the Law by putting people right through faith.

- The question of legalism:

A Christian is not saved by the good deeds he does, but because he has been saved he must devote his life to good deeds.

The prophet

His teaching of

- justification: We are justified by faith through the saving righteousness of God through incorporation into Christ Jesus by an active decision of our will, evidenced through our response of faith in Jesus and baptism (see Rom 1,16-17);

- adoption: Because of His love God decided that through Jesus Christ He would make us His sons (see Eph 1,5);

- mediation was the task Jesus undertook (see 1 Tim 2,5-6);

- expiation is the result of our justification: God offered Jesus, so that by His death He should become the means by which people's sins are forgiven through their faith in Him (see Rom 3,25);

- redemption is to set free from captivity, or to buy back that which has been pawned (see Rom 8,22-23);

- reconciliation is the result of our redemption. It means that peace has been made between us and God (see Rom 5,1);

- sanctification is the process by which we as saints of God grow in our Christian experience, being `in Christ' and becoming more like Him (see 1 Cor 6,11).

- The warning to turn from sin and rebellion against God, Acts 17,30

- The Age to come, Rom 8,23; 1 Cor 15,51-54;16,22

The fact that Paul actually met the resurrected Jesus (a common factor for all Apostles) changed a belief into a knowledge. He knew that the resurrection is not just a hope but an assurance of what will happen.

His teaching on the life in the Spirit:

- The Holy Spirit is the Guarantee of what God has for us (see 2 Cor 2,21-22);

- The Holy Spirit is the Seal that we belong to God (see 2 Cor 1,22);

- The Holy Spirit is a Helper in our life (see Rom 8,26);

- The Holy Spirit is the Source of all life (see Rom 8,10).

His teaching on the Church:

- The Body of Christ (see 1 Cor 12,27);

- The Bride of Christ (see Eph 5,22-27);

- The Household of God (see Eph 2,19-21).

Some of his other teachings:

- Paul was preaching a new nationhood - one people under God (see 1 Cor 12,12f; Eph 1,22-23; Col 1,18;

- Women are equal (see Gal 3,28) but different;

- Heaven and earth meet in the believer (see 1 Cor 3,21-23);

- The now and than meets in the Church (see 1 Cor 12,27; Rom 8,22-23);

- The importance to live in expectation of the coming of Christ (see 1 Cor 15,51-54);

- Christ is a cosmic Christ who was the agent of God in creation (alpha) and He will be the Omega point to which all history is moving. Through the Son God decided to bring the whole universe back to Himself (see Col 1,20);

- Faith transforms us from mortal to immortal beings. This transformation has already begun! (see 2 Cor 5,1-4).

d. The Early Church

We will start the history of the Early Church with the man whom Jesus made the "Rock" of His church, that is Peter.

In Jesus' day Capernaum was a fishing community stretching for a half a kilometer along the Sea of Galilee. Many events recorded in the New Testament took place at Capernaum. After Jesus left Nazareth, He went to live there and began preaching. Here He called the fishermen to be disciples - among them was Peter.

In the early fifth century, a Spanish pilgrim wrote in her diary: "In Capernaum the house of the Prince of the Apostles (i.e. Peter) became a church". An Italian pilgrim reported the following in about A.D. 570: "We came to Capernaum in the house of St. Peter which is now a basilica".

Archeologists found this sight in 1977 with numerous inscriptions. An interesting inscription is from 3 Baruch 4,4-15: "Bitterness will be turned into sweetness, malediction will be changed into benediction, and the fruit of the vineyard will become the Blood of God" - a reference to the Lord's Supper which was celebrated in this house of Peter.

Peter and his calling, see Jesus and His ministry - The Apostles.

If we just accept people as they are we only make them worse, but if we treat people as they ought to be, we help them to become what they are capable of becoming - Jesus did just that with Peter, Lk 5,1-10.

The Father's revelation to Peter - his confession of this revelation, Mt 16,13-19, invited Jesus to make him the "Rock" of His Church.

Paul reveals that the Lord appeared first to Peter and then to other Apostles, 1 Cor 15,5.

Peter's witness

Peter began to proclaim the Good News in the Plaza with great boldness, Acts 2,14f; he preached the crucified and resurrected Lord, Who was the fulfillment of the Scriptures. Peter became the first great preacher of the Christian Church.

Pentecost was the birth of the Church: What had happened was that a new body of people was born, a new nation came into being, and a new relationship between different people of the world was established. From this day on the believers went out to turn the world upside down.

Peter's ministry

See Acts 3,6-8;9,36f, healing ministry; Acts 10, Peter brought the Gentiles into the Church: Peter took the Church out of the confines of Judaism from being a sect of the Jewish faith - he changed the course of the Church.

As the head of the Apostles, he met Paul three years after his conversion, Gal 1,18, then fourteen years later, Gal 2,1, see also Gal 2,7.8.

The Council of Jerusalem, Acts 15,5f:

Peter's strong argument and personal testimony were instrumental in turning the direction of the Early

Church away from being a mere sect of Judaism and thrust her into the mainstream of the Western world.

The Acts of the Apostles

The first twelve chapters of Acts concentrates on Peter, the rest on Paul.

Peter's missionary journeys:

- Judea witnessed the bold proclamation of Peter and John

- Samaritan believers were strengthened by Peter during a time of peace from persecution

- Joppa, Lydda, Caesarea, Acts 2,42;6,7;8,1;9,31;8,14-25;9,32-43

- Antioch had been the coastal center where the issue of Jews and Gentiles eating together had arisen. From there Peter returned to Jerusalem

- Asia Minor was to be the scene of Peter's next missionary journey, and he visited the centers of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia

- Corinth was another center of Peter's ministry, see 1 Cor 1,12

- Peter also visited Rome

The writings of Peter

The Gospel of Mark - Peter told Mark everything about the life and teachings of Jesus. Papias, who was a disciple of John, wrote from Hierapolis in Asia Minor in A.D. 130: "Mark, having been the interpreter of Peter, wrote all that he recalled of what was either said or done by the Lord. For he neither heard the Lord nor was he a follower of His, but a later date of Peter". Twenty years later, Justin, writing from Rome, also made the same point, as did Irenaeus writing from Gaul in A.D. 170, and Clement from North Africa in A.D. 180.

The Epistles of Peter: Both Epistles were written from Rome, called Babylon in Revelation, where Rome is portrayed as the harlot Babylon dripping with the blood of the saints.

The persecuted Apostle

In the year 64 Nero burned down the slum area of Rome to build a new city worthy of himself. The fire could not be controlled and many people were burnt to death. In the inquiry that followed, Nero blamed the Christians for starting the fire. As a result, many were brought to trial and put to death for their faith.

Peter turned his back upon the burning city of Rome where his brothers and sisters were suffering. While he was leaving he met Jesus. He looked at Peter and Peter said: "Qou Vadis Domine?" - "Where are you going Lord?" And Jesus said: "I am going to my people, Peter". Peter suddenly realized he should not be turning his back on the people of God and, turning again, he went into the city of Rome. He was taken prisoner and crucified. As they went about to nail him down, he protested that he was not worthy to die as Jesus had so his executioners nailed him on the cross upside down.

This tradition is unanimous: Tacitus quotes it, Clemens adds that it was at the same time as Paul was executed. Also Gaius, Dionysius, Sulpicus Servus, and Tertullian report it.

Stephen the First Martyr (Protomartyr)

Jerusalem was the center of the Church after Pentecost.

The first seven Deacons: They were full of the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. They were certainly not just `table waiters', for they also started preaching and evangelizing.

At this time the synagogue was the center of debate and proclamation. Stephen's discourse concentrated on the Law and the Temple and how his listeners had resisted the Holy Spirit and murdered the Righteous Servant of God, Acts 7.

All that was central to the life of the Jews was now fulfilled and focused in Jesus Christ. In this insight was the seed of the equality of Jew and Gentile within the Church and the end of the unique place of Judaism. Stephen declared that the new had come, therefore the old must go.

Stephen no sooner entered church history than he left it, Acts 7,55f, but not without having profound effect, Acts 8.

James and Jude

James, the brother of Jesus, witnessed the resurrected Jesus and that changed his whole life. 1 Cor 15,7.

He became the head of the Church in Jerusalem, Acts 15,13f;21,18; Gal 1,19; 2,9. While the Apostles went to different parts of the world preaching the Gospel, James was entrusted to care for the central Church of Christendom.

Clement of Alexandria, a "Church Father", indicates that James was chosen for the leadership of the Church in Jerusalem by Peter and John.

He also had a major contribution on the Council of Jerusalem, Acts 15,13f.

The Letter of James: James was a great man of faith and his faith was a practical faith. He teaches about testing, wisdom, wealth, speech, envy, patience, prayer and neighborly conduct.

His two major points:

1. Faith must be expressed in caring, Jas 1,26.27.

2. Faith must be expressed in action, Jas 2,14-17.

Jude, the son of James, Lk 6,16, and his teaching:

See The ministry of Jesus - the Apostles.

"Fight on for the faith which once and for all God had given for his people", Jude 3.

We have hearts to love and hands to serve - the Church is not just a group of people who have beliefs; she is a family of servants who are willing to help.

Timothy and Titus, see Acts and the Letters of the NT

It was in the area of Derbe that Timothy first met Paul and became a Christian. Nearby Paul also met Titus and these two young men, both in their early twenties, continued on the missionary journey with Paul and became two of the first appointed Ministers of the early Church.

The Holy Spirit used them in various ways: As evangelists to preach the Gospel; as shepherds, to help the newly founded churches grow until bishops or presbyters (elders) were appointed, etc.

Timothy was to go to Thessalonica, to Corinth, to Philippi and to Ephesus, while Titus was to be sent to Corinth, to Crete, to Nicopolis, to Dalmatia (now Yugoslavia) and to the area known today as Albania.

Titus was a Gentile and not circumcised and some of the Jewish Christians were scandalized by this. They insisted that Titus be circumcised, but Paul refused, Gal 2,1f.

Part of his ministry was to correct a particular church situation and to work in the difficult city of Corinth. The church was burdened by internal divisions and unworthy behavior, while some had disputed Paul's leadership and authority, 2 Cor.

After this task Titus went to meet Paul in Macedonia. Paul sent him back to Corinth to continue to build the believers up in their faith and to make arrangements for the special offering that was required for the poor in Jerusalem.

One of the Pastoral Letters is addressed to him ( see also the Letters to Timothy):

- right doctrine, 1 Tim 1,3-7 - Christians were not people who opposed the Law; they obeyed it, yet did not live their lives in bondage to it. They live in accordance with the Law's demands, not by obeying rules, but by being close followers of Jesus who fulfilled the Law.

- good leadership - they had to be mature Christian characters so as to produce maturity in others.

- the Scripture should be taught - 2 Tim 3,14-17. Paul's thinking was that Timothy could safeguard himself by testing his own thoughts against those of Paul who had taught him the faith - this is the example and teaching of a living Apostle, see WT - Only one true "apostolic" Church. All the Apostle's life and teaching were (are) yardsticks against whom the believers should check their words and actions.

There is a constancy about true Christian teaching. What is said and written is seen in the life of the Master and those who knew (know) Him and were (are) appointed by Him to be Apostles. The test we have is to align our words and actions with those of the Scripture, and our characters with those of the Master and His Apostles.

Timothy came from a mixed marriage. His mother, Eunice, 2 Tim 1,5, was a Jew and his father was a Greek. That mixed marriage gave Timothy an insight into both cultures.

His Greek cultural background was to help Timothy when he went and administered in the Greek cities of Corinth, Nicopolis, Thessalonica and Philippi, Phil 2,19-24, Berea, Athens.

Two of the Pastoral Letters are addressed to him.

These letters are full of advice to the young minister on how to handle believers and situations that arise in church life.

Throughout his life, the picture of Timothy is one of a hard-working and faithful Servant of the Lord who traveled widely to a number of the churches, counseling and guiding their spiritual growth.

The Persecutions

The Christians in Jerusalem suffered constant persecution throughout the first forty years of the churches' existence.

The persecution caused many Christians to flee to outlying areas - Damascus, Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, etc.

Nero's persecution was a local one.

The Roman general Titus, later emperor (from A.D. 66 called Vespasian), set the stage for international persecution and execution.

The Underground Church

To escape the threats of persecution, Roman Christians hid in underground tunnels and caves cut in the soft volcanic tufa used originally as burial chambers. There are more than forty such catacombs around Rome covering about eight hundred kilometers of tunnels and ledges.

The catacombs were important sources of early examples of Christian art, and words and prayers of the faithful are written on the walls. The traditional symbols of anchors, ships, fish, crosses and pictures of the Good Shepherd carrying a lamb were all commonly used.

The early Church was born in blood and persecution - out of persecution Christians saw God's plan for the future being woven.

John

John was with Andrew when they first heard about Jesus of Nazareth. They were both fishermen and they had been listening to John the Baptist down by the river Jordan. John the Baptist had pointed them toward Jesus and Jesus had invited them to come and follow Him, Jn 1,35f.

Jesus called them to "catch men", Mt 4,19.

With his brother he was nicknamed "the sons of thunder", Mk 3,17. The two sets of brothers - Simon Peter and Andrew, and John and James - became the nucleus within the band of disciples.

Frequently Scripture mentions that Peter, John and James went ahead with Jesus and they formed a close personal band: Transfiguration, the inner room of Jairus' house, the Passover meal John sat next to Jesus, Garden of Gethsemane, at the trial of Jesus before Caiphas, Mt 17,1f; Mk 5,37f;14,32f; Jn 13,23f; 18,15f.

It was into John's care that Jesus entrusted His widowed mother Mary, Jn 19,26f. John cared for Mary throughout the rest of her life and she traveled with him to Ephesus, where she died and was taken up to heaven - Assumption of Mary (pre-gleaning). Beside John the Apostle and others, Joseph of Arimathea was also present for this important event.

On the morning of the resurrection, Peter and John ran to the tomb, Jn 20,3f.

On the day of Pentecost, Peter and John proclaimed that Jesus had risen from the dead. They were imprisoned together, Acts 3 and 4.

John was one of the pillars of the Church, Gal 2,9.

He was exiled on the island of Patmos, Rev 1,9, during the persecution of the Emperor Domitian. Five consecutive emperors persecuted the Church during the lifetime of John.

John in Ephesus

Irenaeus, Eusebius, Papias and Dionysius who wrote not long after John's death, referred to his ministry in Ephesus.

Polycrates, who was bishop of Ephesus at the end of the second century, stated that Apostle John died in Ephesus where he was buried.

The Gospel of John

It was in Ephesus that John wrote the great Gospel that bore his name.

He wrote with intimacy and personal knowledge of the events surrounding the life of Jesus.

He gives us a great deal of eyewitness detail and personal information on characters involved in the life of Jesus.

John's purpose in writing, Jn 20,31.

John wrote three letters from Ephesus - the time is urgent; there are already false teachers and prophets in the Church, denying that Jesus is the Son of God who came in the flesh to save humankind.

On the island of Patmos, John wrote The Revelations - this visionary book shows what will happen in the future, and emphasizes that God is in control -

He patiently works out the future for those whom He loves.

He makes known to the believers the hidden secrets of the future, and Jesus Christ Who is both the One Who makes the revelation and Who is the object of the revelation.

The purpose of this book, Rev 1,1-3.

The Revelation lifts the heart of the believers and grant them the knowledge of ultimate vindication and triumph over wrong.

Maranatha, Rev 22,20.

After some years of exile, John was released from the island of Patmos and allowed to return to Ephesus.

The old man, now in his nineties, lived for several more years, dying peacefully some time after A.D. 98.

Ireneus, one of the early church historians, said that in advanced old age he was frequently carried to meetings where he would always greet the believers with the statement: "Little children, love one another".

The symbol of John has always been an eagle.

e. Mary and her Ministry

See also WT - Visions; New Testament Commentary; Teaching of the Church of Jesus the Christ.

Comment: The human person is given once-for-all at conception. Nevertheless he is not given all-at-once. No one reaches personality in a rush. There is the long and slow maturation from babyhood through childhood and adolescence to adulthood and beyond into the westering sun of declining years. It is the same person who experiencing these successive stages - the person given once-for-all, but not given all-at-once.

So it is with the revelation of God; so it is with the Christ-event, its seizure and transmission through the Apostles also of the End-time. Given once-for-all, the Christ-event is not given all-at-once, see Jn 16,13.

Mary's parents:

Joachim and Anna.

Joachim was of Davidic descent, a priest. His Biblical name was Heli, Lk 3,23.

Althougn Ahha was barren and of an advanced age she conceived Mary. At an age when to bear a child was biologically impossible, an angel of the Lord appeared to her with the message: "The Lord has granted your supplication; you will conceive. The child you will bear will be hailed throughout the earth."

After Mary's birth Anna kept Mary until the age when she could be brought to the Temple - as she promised in her supplication: "Truly, as the Lord my God lives, if I bear a child, I will consecrate it to the Lord. It shall serve Him all its life."

Mary was educated in the Temple - she could write and read and she received knowledge of the Bible. The decision to marry Joseph was certainly in line with the Divine will.

Her conception and some other details of her pregnancy - visiting her cousin Elizabeth, encounter with Joseph, her finance; the circumstances of birth; the flight to Egypt; settling in Nazareth; presentation in the Temple are briefly described by the Synoptics. Some important details of Mary's walk with Jesus can be draw from the Gospel of John - the marriage of Cana, Jn 2,1f; the scene under the cross, Jn 19,25-27.

Mary must of have lived with a deep expectation of the coming of the Messiah. She had to have a firm belief (foreboding) that this will concern her in a special way.

It was therefore a very personal expectation.

In this condition of "knowing and not knowing" she persevered and lived within the incomprehensibility of God's plans.

The approach of the angel expresses the freedom of Mary and inquires whether she is ready to take on the task offered to her by God - she should (live) co-act in obedience with God's will.

What is asked of Mary is a step into the unknown - a step in faith. She should dare to venture into an existence which is impossible in the sphere of nature - she should conceive without a human agent.

In this hour she decided to live exclusively in (out of ) faith. In this faith Mary proceeds from the Old Testament into the New and becomes a Christian.

As the conception happened, she became the Gate of the future.

The Magnificat of Mary, Lk 1,46f, is a testimony of her consciousness of the great blessedness of her election.

The wandering-existence of Joseph and Mary has an Old Testament motive throughout - break away from old roots and a start into the unknown.

In all this Mary remained truly a human being - also in her relationship to her Son: In the midst of intimacy there was a distance, an incomplete understanding, Lk 2,50 (the reports of the Gospels are evidence of this), her Son remained incomprehensible to her during His entire mission - a comprehensive knowledge of Christ would have been unbearable for her and the intimacy, which is an essential part of a relationship between a mother and child, would have been lost. She, like every other human being, had to grow and develop - what marked her as unique was a faith which persevered in this tension until God was ready to shed light on these mysteries. Understanding of many things, as for the Apostles, was given to her at Pentecost.

After the resurrection of Jesus Mary is among the Apostles, Acts 1,12f.

Illuminated by the Holy Spirit, she now understands the role of her Son and sees herself as the Mother of the Messiah, knows that she is redeemed, knows that He is the Son of the eternal Father and her Son.

The tradition of the Original Church and my visions bear witness to Mary making her home with John. As John moved to Ephesus, she moved with him. Mary never appeared before the public, but many intimate details of the Gospels show her knowledge, show traces of her information.

St. Luke was also a close friend of Mary - his Gospel includes detailed accounts of Mary's experiences before and after Jesus was born.

Mary's life, born without sin, was for us incomprehensibly deeper then ours.

The Bible is mostly silent about her life - but silence is not significant: The Bible is silent also about the extremely important preparatory years of Jesus.

Mary died in Ephesus. It is here that she was changed and taken into heaven - Assumption.

Some of Mary's characteristics:

Woman of humility, dignity, poise and serenity (annunciation, Calvary); of unstinted generosity and wholehearted commitment to the Lord's will (her Yes at annunciation); of exceptional faith (Lk 1,45); of a prayerfulness not only personal and solitary but also within a community (Acts 1,14). Majesty of self-control; courage - Stabat Mater (Calvary).

Mary the Mother of God - Theotokos:

In the first centuries of Christianity, no one questioned this title. An ancient prayer (~250 A.D.) confirms that: "We fly to your protection, holy Mother of God". Gregory of Nazianzum (382) waved Theotokos as a flag of orthodoxy. St. John Damascene (~750) wrote: "Rightly and truly we call holy Mary Theotokos. For this title epitomizes the whole mystery of the incarnation (oikonomia). For if the Mother of God gave birth, it is certainly God who is born from her" (De fide orthodoxa, book 3, chapter 12), also Rom 1,3-4.

Mary's immaculate Conception:

Mary was sinless not because she did not need a Savior - she was not less but more redeemed than we are. Her redemption was not of our sort - she was preserved, while we are liberated.

God went to the extraordinary length of removing in advance such sins (inclusive of the Original Sin) as she would otherwise have committed had she not been filled from the first instant of her being with His Holy Spirit.

Mary's virginity:

- Before birth, Is 7,14;

- In birth: If even at Christ's birth Mary's virginity had been violated, He would no longer be born of a virgin;

- After birth: She was virginal in the whole conduct of her life, in every aspect of it.

Mediatrix roll of Mary:

"There is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all", 1 Tim 2,5f.

Anything Mary can do derives in its totality from Christ - Christ as mediator enables His Mother to draw man to Him - her Madiatrix roll in the End Time will dramatically increase, see the book Witness of the Times - Visions.

Mary's role in salvation-history originated not from some inner necessity, but from the divine wisdom - her role as mediator is a secondary and subordinated one.

Indeed all Christians are summoned to play a role as a mediator. This means that they must co-operate with the Lord, first in their own salvation, and secondly in the salvation of others, Mt 28,18-20; 1 Cor 3,9; 2 Cor 5,18.20, etc.

The Saints and their roles as mediators are not cut off by death - we naturally continue to cultivate the mind of Christ – The Intercessor.

At the Right Hand of The Father, Jesus continues to intercede for us, Hebr 7,25 - so also the Saints. What applies to all Saints as mediators, applies a fortiori to the Mother of God.

The first Eve, designated by Scripture "the mother of all the living", Gn 3,20; Mary, the New Eve, is in the deepest sense the mother of all the redeemed - she is the Mother of Jesus, The Life and The Life-bringer, the head of the human race. She was the mediator of Jesus to us, not just biologically, but through her obedience and faith: She is truly a mediatrix.

The Mother of Christ is the Mother of the Church and all true Christians. Nobody can have the Church as mother who has not Mary as his heavenly mother.

Mary's Assumption:

The first man was given a proximity to God which allowed him not to die but at his "appointed" time to pass over to God.

After the fall:

One dies. As a disembodied spirit one enjoys the beatific vision together with essential bliss in the company of Christ; then on the day of resurrection the glorified body joins the heavenly glory.

Mary underwent bodily death like Jesus, but was immediately resurrected and entered into glory with transfigured body and soul.

Assumption is not an occurrence exclusive to Mary, see Gn 5,24; Mt 27,51-53, etc.

26. The Essenes - the Dead Sea Scrolls

The Essenes, were members of a Jewish sect living in the Holy Land from about 150 B.C. to A.D. 68. They numbered about 4,000 and had a communal life. Essenes were ascetics, preparing themselves for the Coming of the Messiah.

The Essenes saw the world as a scene of the conflict between good and evil, light and darkness, truth and falsehood.

The Essenes were wiped out by the Romans. As they saw the end coming they hid their writings. In the late 1940's and the 50's the remains of their settlement and jars of scrolls of these writings were found at and around Khirbat Qumran near the Dead Sea. Some of these scrolls are the oldest Biblical manuscripts yet found.

The Dead Sea Scrolls have many teachings that are not compatible with New Testament teachings. The disciples believed that Jesus was the Messiah who had come as a suffering servant to redeem Israel, whereas the Essenes were looking to the fulfillment of Mosaic Law by an all-conquering Messiah. Salvation for the Essenes was only for a few who were the elect because they were children of the light, whereas the disciples preached salvation by faith in Jesus as Christ.

The Scrolls have many similar features to that of the Gospel of John in that they emphasize sin, repentance, etc.

27. Drugs - Drug-abuse

Every addiction diminishes the will-power and increases the possibility of demonic infiltration.

The Bible teaches us: "Resist the devil and he will flee from you", Jas 4,7 -

to "resist" is a function of the will.

No addiction is harmless; no drug addiction is acceptable. There may be socially acceptable drug addictions, like nicotine, hashish, coffee, etc. - but there are no Christian-acceptable ones.

The body of a Christian is a "temple of the Holy Spirit", 1 Cor 6,19 - do not pollute this temple!

Drug-addicts, after accepting Christ into their lives, have to be delivered, see Church of Christ - People of God on the Way (ChCh) - Christian Counseling.

What are drugs?

A drug is any chemical substance which affects the normal way that a person's mind, spirit or body works.

Some drugs occur naturally in plants - like nicotine in tobacco and  in cannabis. Other drugs are manufactured - like alcohol, aspirin or tranquilizers.

Why do people use drugs?

- Medical reasons;

- Artificial problem-solvers: They are not the answer for solving problems;

- To be socially acceptable - peer pressure;

- Try to control stress, or to relieve other uncomfortable feelings;

- For pleasure;

- Try to deal with boring or frustrating situations;

- Use as stimulants to overcome feelings of depression or constant tiredness;

- To give themselves an artificial boost;

- Some drugs are used to calm down, or unwind.

What drugs do people use?

Very broadly, drugs can be divided into three categories:

Legal social drugs like alcohol, caffeine, etc.;

Legal medicinal drugs like pain-killers and tranquilizers;

Illegal and restricted drugs like heroin, cannabis*, etc.

* Cannabis, a legal definition: Marijuana is an illegal drug that produces psychological and physical effects. It is ,made from the dried leaves and flowering tops of the hemp plant.

The problems of drug-misuse

It causes damage to the physical, spiritual, mental and social well-being.

- Spiritual health: It increases the danger of demonic infiltration and can lead to demonic possession;

- Personal health: It increases the danger of accidents, diseases caused by or related to use, withdrawal, death;

- Relationships: It may lead to marital conflicts, tense family life, sexual difficulties, separations, physical or verbal violence, child abuse, divorce;

- Social functioning: It may lead to dangerous behavior, financial or employment difficulties, disrupted friendships (or having the wrong friendships), legal or accommodational problems.

Drug use leads to increasing criminal activities.

Solution

Accept Christ into your life and get delivered. Live within a Christ-centered Church-community.

Alcohol

How alcohol affects you:

The brain is affected almost as soon as one begins to drink.

First affected are the nerve centers controlling inhibitions and self control - so one feels less inhibited, as though the alcohol is giving one a "lift". If one goes on drinking, reactions and judgment become more and more affected - thoughts and actions grow slower and slower and eventually, if one keeps drinking, one falls asleep.

However, the risk of having an accident could be just as great in the early stages of drinking, when one feels overconfident and has not yet noticed the alcohol's effects on one's reaction - alcohol makes one more likely to take risks; it affects judgment, makes one less alert and slows the reactions.

It may cause menstrual disorders, increased risk of miscarriage, premature or stillbirth, infertility, risk of birth defects. It may also cause weight-gain and increase in blood pressure. One risks liver damage, ulcers of the digestive system, as well as heart muscle damage.

Blood alcohol concentration:

The amount of alcohol that affects behavior can vary considerably from one person to another, so it is impossible to say what is a "safe" level for everybody.

The chance of having a serious accident rises steeply as BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) increases.

The safest way to operate any vehicle, is not to drink at all!

The blood carries alcohol to all parts of the body. The body gets rid of a very small amount of alcohol through the lungs (breath), the skin (sweat) and the kidneys (urine). Alcohol is processed by the liver. It takes a full hour for a healthy body to rid itself of the alcohol from one standard drink (standard drink will raise the BAC of an average man by as much as 0.02%, and an 0.03% for an average woman). There is no way one can hurry up this process.

Smoking cigarettes

Nicotine in tobacco is a very addictive and damaging drug.

Smoking and fitness:

Smokers are not able to perform physical activities as well as non-smokers - they literally run out of puff.

Most smokers started smoking when they were very young because of the image smoking had - it was glamorous, the ads convinced them it looked good and their friends did it. By the time they realized what they were doing to their bodies, they were addicted.

Smoking and vascular disease:

Carbon monoxide is one of the 2000 chemicals that cigarette smoke contains. When cigarette is smoked, carbon monoxide thickens the blood and cuts off oxygen to areas such as the toes, feet, legs, fingers, hands and ultimately the heart - increasing the risk of heart attack or stroke.

Nine out of ten sufferers of vascular disease are cigarette smokers.

Smoking and the teeth:

Cigarettes stain teeth like rust. People who smoke are more susceptible to plaque build-up in their teeth. Stained teeth and bad breath are only the beginning of dental problems caused by smoking.

Smokers are also more likely to get mouth ulcers, oral cancers and lung cancers.

Smoking and skin:

The skin of a smoker is generally much less elastic and the upper lip usually carries a taint yellow stain.

Smoking starves the skin of oxygen, thereby preventing the skin cells from renewing themselves and regenerating.

Nicotine from the cigarette invades the dermis, the region of the skin where regeneration takes place. It then damages the collagen and elastin fibers that are essential for firm healthy skin.

The skin is the largest organ in the human body. It regulates temperature, protects the internal organs from infection and helps dispose of substances such as excess water and salt. The damaging of this organ may therefore lead to numerous complications and illnesses.

Cannabis

See p.15

Marijuana is made from the dried leaves and flowers of the plant.

Hashish is made from the plant's resin.

Hashish oil is a concentrated liquid extract from the plant.

All these products come from the hemp plant Cannabis Sativa.

The main ingredient in cannabis which affects the user's behavior is a chemical called THC. This is absorbed into the bloodstream and the blood then carries THC to the brain. It is the action of the THC on the brain which produces the characteristic "stoned" feeling. THC is stored in the fat tissues, which means the chemical will stay in the body for several days.

It is alarming how many traffic accidents are caused by drug abuse, including the use of Cannabis. The affect of this drug on drivers is somewhat similar to alcohol. For example, it slows down thinking and reactions; makes the person less aware of what is going on around him.

Effects:

Marijuana contains more than 400 chemicals. When smoked, it produces over 2000 chemicals that enter the body through the lungs. These chemicals have a varied of immediate, short-term effects. In addition, the regular use of marijuana has been linked to a number of long-term effects.

The effects of cannabis vary according to the amount and strength of the drug, from personality and mood.

Small doses produce short-term effects of marijuana include both psychological and physical reactions. These reactions usually last for three to five hours after the person has smoked it. Euphoria, loss of inhibition, loss of concentration, impaired balance and co-ordination, increased pulse and heart rate and reddened eyes. Some of the psychological reactions, known as a `high,' consists of changes in the user's feelings and thoughts.

Large doses make these effects stronger. They can also change perceptions of time, sound, color, distance, touch or other sensations.

Large doses cause: Confusion, restlessness, feelings of excitement, hallucinations and anxiety or panic.

The main risks associated with long-term cannabis use:

Scientists have recently discovered receptors in the brain and throughout other parts of the body, including the spleen, to which cannabinoids attach themselves. These receptors are found in high densities in parts of the brain known as the hippocampus and cortex which are responsible for the so called higher functions of the brain, including emotions, learning, memory, future planing (generally speaking many of our thought processes). Long term cannabis use makes subtle changes to those functions.

The effects are not completely known. But studies have shown that long term users develop serious long-term problems. Cannabis interferes with normal powers of memory, concentration and logical thinking. One finds it difficult to remember what happens while one has THC in the blood. It makes it difficult to learn even simple tasks. This means that one performs badly at work or at school.

Selective attention function in the brain is impaired - which means that the user is more easily distracted than non-users and make more mistakes in memory tests.

Among males, prolonged use of marijuana can reduce the production of sperm and of the male sex hormone `testosterone.' Among females, it can cause menstrual irregularity and reduced fertility. Extended use of marijuana also has a long-term psychological effect.

What has been lately established is that the long-term use of cannabis can disrupt the cognitive functions of the brain and can trigger schizophrenia and other psychotic illnesses such as paranoia and panic attacks*.

* Drug users' will-power will be affected (see page 16) and they become susceptible for demonic influence - demonic possession can result (see WT, p.46;154).

Some chronic users suffer conditions similar to those caused by smoking tobacco. These include bronchitis, coughing and chest pains.

Cannabis use can affect sexual development and reduce the production of important sex hormones.

It can lead to motivation and personality changes. One may lose energy and drive, lose interest.

It may affect relationships with family and friends - causes mood and behavior changes.

THC affects balance and co-ordination. Also affects perceptions of time, distance, sound and other sensations. It affects the ability to drive. Drugs are causing an increasing number of accidents.

Cannabis could cost jobs. If stoned at work, or have a cannabis hangover, one cannot work efficiently.

In pregnant women it will affect the fetus.

It may also causes bronchitis, lung cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure and other circulatory or respiratory diseases.

Using cannabis is often an entry for the use of harder drugs.

Cannabis contains nearly twice as much tar as tobacco.

THC is a powerful drug!

Cannabis is used in medicine to treat medical problems like glaucoma, anorexia nervosa, epilepsy and asthma. See ChCh – Christian Counseling.

No drug can help us solve a personal problem; it can only cover it up temporarily.

The real problem-solver is Jesus the Christ!

28. AIDS

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. The name refers to the fact that the disorder mainly affects the patient's disease-fighting immune system.

It is an extremely serious disorder that results from severe damage to the body's defenses against disease. As a result, AIDS patients become susceptible to certain illnesses that do not normally occur or that are normally not serious.

AIDS is caused by two of the group of viruses called "retroviruses".

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) infection-symptoms include enlarged lymph glands, tiredness, fever, loss of appetite and weight, diarrhoea and night sweats. The virus may also infect the brain or central nervous system and produce thinking or memory disorders and coordination problems.

This virus originates from the African Continent.

Transmission:

A word about compassion: A true compassion will warn that a behavior may result in misery, disease and death. The truly compassionate course is to use every means possible to deflect people from a "lifestyle" that causes spiritual, emotional and medical disaster. To show compassion to a person, for instance, suffering from lung cancer we must show him the facts about cigarette smoking.

1. Intimate sexual contact - AIDS was brought into our hemisphere (Western World) by homosexual* intercourse; was and is spread mainly by such sexual practices. AIDS can be transmitted heterosexually. However, AIDS in Western societies, is primarily a disease of homosexuals and it will remain so. AIDS is an illness of sin! The so called Third World, particularly the Asian Hemisphere, was infected by AIDS mostly through the same above mentioned practices. It was brought into Asia mostly by Westerners.

*Homosexuality: A homosexual is a person who engages in homosexual behavior. Such behavior is chosen, as it is within the control of a person's mind and will.

The Bible unconditionally forbids and condemns homosexual (or lesbian) acts (that is, any erotic, sexual act between members of the same gender) and homosexuals. It defines such behavior as abominable, Lev 20,13, dishonorable and unnatural, Rom 1,26f. Homosexuals are ranked among the lawless and disobedient, 1 Tim 1,8-10, and condemned to separation from the kingdom of God, 1 Cor 6,9-11.

The biblical prohibition on homosexual behavior is instructive: "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman", Lev 18,22a. This command is based upon the supposition that the forbidden behavior is also a chosen one, otherwise it would not make sense to forbid it.

The biblical condemnation of homosexual behavior - "it is abomination", Lev 18,22b - is likewise instructive; for Scripture does not classify as evil behavior that is outside man's control, nor does it

condemn a man for behavior in ways that he cannot help. By defining homosexual behavior as sinful, Scripture defines it as willful.

Homosexual activity originates:

a. In the mind and will of man - it is a chosen behavior or

b. Homosexuality is demon possession, regardless whether it started with such possession or was incurred through a mental problem followed by homosexual practices. Cure of such possession, see "Church of Christ - People of God on the Way" - Christian Counseling.

ad a. Such a person can and must abstain from homosexual activity in exactly the same way as a man with heterosexual desires can and must abstain from adultery.

Further biblical references:

Paul describes homosexual behavior as "contrary to sound doctrine", 1 Tim 1,10. It arises from wrong thinking - what a warning this is for those who think that doctrine is impractical and unimportant! In Romans 1,25, Paul traces homosexual practice to false beliefs: "They exchanged the truth about God for a lie". And that lie has to do with lust (v.24a) and idolatry (v.25b).

Before people do wrong things they usually believe wrong things.

The Greek word used to denote a "homosexual" in 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy is "arsenokoites", which literally means "a man who lies with a man", that is, a sodomite. This word implies action and not inclination.

Having noted that homosexuals are among the unrighteous who "will not inherit the kingdom of God", Paul declares, "and such were some of you", 1 Cor 6,9-11. By these words, Paul indicates that homosexuality is not a question of nature but of behavior. When a person turns to Christ and ceases to engage in homosexual activities, he ceases to be a homosexual. Though the converted former-homosexual may still have to struggle with homosexual desires (have to break the habit), he is not by reason of those desires a homosexual.

For the Holy Spirit, the Author of the Bible, a homosexual, like an idolater or an adulterer, is known and defined by what he does. A person who is tempted to do a homosexual act and resists it is not a homosexual; just like the person who resist the temptation to steal is not a thief.

2. Exposure to infected blood

Intravenous drug users get AIDS because they share needles with infected people, mainly homosexuals, or prostitute themselves to homosexuals to pay for their habit.

3. Transmission from an infected pregnant woman to her foetus.

Women get AIDS because the men they `sleep with' have slept with other men.

Talk of heterosexual transmission in Africa ought not to confuse us about the Western situation. Factors in force in Africa - widespread use of prostitutes, high incidence of venereal diseases, poor hygiene and nutrition with resultant poor immunity - are not as pertinent in our culture.

Prevention:

"Safe sex" from the Christian point of view:

Have sexual intercourse only with your own wife or husband - be faithful to each other. Christian morality is The preventive method of this illness.

29. Laws

a. Physical laws - governing the material world: For example, the law of gravity.

b. Psychological laws - governing the "mental world": For example, our reactions to the influence of the environment will determine our mental well-being (for instance: Reacting with love or hate).

c. Spiritual laws - governing the life of God's People: The Two Great Commandments (see Mt 22,37-40).

d. Some laws of the Covenant*:

- The Covenant with God is entered into by blood (Hebrews 9);

- The keeping of the Covenant has God's blessing up to thousand generation (Ex 34,7a);

- The breaking of the Covenant has a consequence up to the third and fourth generation (Ex 34,7b);

- The man is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of His Church (1 Cor 11,3).

* God's Covenant with His People: God initiates the covenant and declares Himself to the God of His People. The People in return must follow God and do His will.

III. The present condition of the Faithful departed/ the "final" things

1.

The place of the faithful departed before the resurrection of our Lord was the "Underworld".

After His death, Jesus released the faithful from their "prison" and brought them into His "presence", 1 Pe 3,19.

The soul, on its release from the body by death, wings its flight to a special place where the greatest joy lies in the presence of the Lord Himself, see 2 Cor 5,8 - here they await their resurrection.

2.

a. The First Resurrection: The dead in Christ will rise, 1 Thess 4,16, joined by those Christians who are alive at this time (Rapture, 1 Thess 4,17). They will be with Christ, see Rev 19,14 - and will return with Him to rule the earth (Millennium):

- "The armies of heaven", Rev 19,14; "My God shall come and all his saints with him", Zech 14,5

- "I also saw the spirits of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus...those who never worshipped the beast...they came to life* again and reigned with Christ", Rev 20,4. This special group of returning Saints (Martyrs) differ from the others in as much as they will "regain" their body of which they were forcefully robbed - transformed like the body of Christ.

Rev 20,5 shows that this event will also be counted to the "first resurrection" (see also 1 Thess 4,16).

* Greek - eksahsahn = they lived again, which means they regained their life (body) which was taken from them.

b. The Second Resurrection: Rev 20,11f, that is, at the Last Judgment - who will take part in it?

- All those who have not been raised at the First Resurrection (those who did not die "in Christ")

- All those "nations" who lived (and died) during the Millennial Kingdom.

3.

The Last judgment is the final balancing of all things and the absolute manifestation of God's perfect goodness. He will bring all the thoughts, words and doings of man into one mighty exhibition - He will proclaim His absolute justice before the entire universe; He will glorify the righteous and condemn the unrighteous.

4.

The individual judgment: It takes place immediately after death, Hebr 9,27.

5.

The special status (at present) of the Christian martyrs of all ages: Their place is under the heavenly "sacrificial altar", Rev 6,9f.

6.

a. The "First Fruits":

- Those who are raptured (pre-gleaning) before the general rapture (see "Bible Commentary" 1 Thess 4,17 and comment) - Enoch, Gn 5,24; Elijah, 2 Ki 2,11;

- The Saints who appeared (resurrected) after the crucifixion of Jesus, Mt 27,52f; see also Mary, the Mother of Jesus (see "The Teaching of the Church of Jesus the Christ);

- "The hundred and forty-four thousand", Rev 14,1f - "these are they (throughout the Christian centuries up to the time of the rapture) who are Pure": Resurrection of those who lived (before) the End Time --

-there is a distinctive prompting of the Spirit, that there are a group of Saints (like the Two Witnesses, Rev 11,3f) who will be raptured separately.

b. The Harvest: The idea of The "first-fruits" as distinct from the harvest is a familiar thought to the Jewish mind. God command was that there should be a Feast of First-Fruits as a preparation for the Feast of Harvest, Ex 23,16; Lev 23,9f.

As the priest's of old presented the First-Fruits before the Ark of the Covenant, so also will the spiritual First-Fruits be presented by our High Priest before the Throne of Grace in heaven - after this, the gathering of the harvest itself will occur. The harvest will take place before the Second Coming of Christ, see Mt 24,30.31 - the sequence of events: verse 31 and then 30.

c.1. The Vintage: The harvest in the Holy Land was followed by the vintage. The grapes were gathered and thrown into great presses. The Vintage will begin at the time of the Great Tribulation, after which the Sign of the Son of Man, Mt 24,30, will appear followed by the Return of the Christ, Rev 19,11f.

c.2. Gleaning: After the Harvest and during the Vintage a spiritual Gleaning will occur - those who turn to Jesus after the Rapture and do not accept the Sign of the Beast, Rev 13,16f;20,4, will be (many of them) gathered to Jesus through martyr's death.

Concepts:

Parousia is the appearance of the Lord to His own, to those who will be "cut up" to Him in the air (Rapture), see 1 Thess 4,16f.

Epiphaneia is the revelation of the Lord to the world, see Mt 24,30; Rev 19,15f.

Tradition: It is important to realize that most of the teachings of the Bible have been handed down as oral tradition, see 2 Thess 2,15.

The reign of Christ - in its full and perfect sense, has not yet begun on earth. He is now seated at the Right Hand of the Father, Acts 5,31;7,55. When, however, He shall return and establish His Kingdom (Millennium) then will He sit on His throne, Rev 3,21, and will rule the earth with His Saints, Rev 20,4.6.

The distinction has to be made between the

- resurrection from the dead and

- resurrection of the dead

Whenever the resurrection of Christ and His Saints is spoken of, it is the resurrection from the dead (ek nekron), Lk 20,35; Rom 8,11; 1 Cor 15,12; Gal 1,1; Eph 1,20; Col 1,18; 2 Tim 2,8; Hebr 13,20;

1 Pe 1,3.21. Otherwise of the dead is used (nekron), Acts 17,32;23,6;24,15.21; 1 Cor 15,12.13.21; Hebr 6,2.

The Latin (Vulgata) uses a mortuis or ex mortuis as distinct from resurrectio mortuorum.

7.

The Millennial Kingdom in the Light of Tradition

The Apostles and the Early Church for the First three hundred years understood John's words about the Millennium, that is, that the Kingdom of the Lord will be physically established on earth. The prayer of the Lord teaches us also that the Kingdom is not yet come and that we are still looking for a period when His will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven, Mt 6,10.

a. The so called Epistle of Barnabas (about 20 years before the Revelation was written) is an apocryphy. However it is of value in bearing witness to the opinions current in the early Church, see "Apostles' School of Prophetic interpretation", p.113.

b. Papias the Martyr, a disciple of John (see Ibid., p. 121, note): "There will be a certain thousand years after the (first) resurrection from the dead, during which the Kingdom of Christ will be bodily established upon the earth".

c. Justin Martyr (~+ 167 A.D.): "With all perfectly orthodox Christians, I acknowledge the future resurrection of the `flesh'. Now the thousand years in Jerusalem when it shall be built up, adorned, and enlarged are declared by the prophets, Ezekiel, Isaiah and others...John, an apostle of Christ, prophesied in the Apocalypse that for those who believe in our Christ there will be a thousand years in Jerusalem; and afterward there will come the catholic, or universal and simultaneous resurrection and judgment of all men", see First Apology (165)

d. Eusebius, 260-340 A.D.- a staunch believer of the Millennium, see Ecclesiastical History.

e. Tertullian, born 160 A.D., see "Comp. Adv. Marcionem", lib. 3, cap 23.

f. Hippolythus Martyr (220 A.D.): "...the future kingdom of the saints when they shall reign with Christ, after His coming down from heaven, as John declared in the Apocalypse...", see "Apostles' School", p.168.

g. Cyprian (~+ 258 A.D.), see "Apostles' School", p. 175/176.

h. Victorinus (290 A.D.) explains himself against those who corrupted the doctrine of the Millennium: "Therefore are they not to be esteemed who agree with Cerinthus the heretic, in maintaining the kingdom of a thousand years to be symbolic", see "Ben Ezra", part 1, p.67.

To this (incomplete) list we may add that no Ecumenical Church Council has ever challenged (or condemned) the teachings of the early Fathers on this subject.

The greatest damage to the apostolic doctrine of the Millennium was done by Augustine of Hippo (+ 430 A.D.). He was at one time a staunch Millenarian. He then abandoned the ancient faith in favor of the figurative view. There can be no doubt that his theology had considerable influence on (especially Rom. Cath.) theologians - undermining the faith in the literal meaning of the Millennium.

Concepts:

The Apocalypse - it was written about 95/96 A.D., see "Prolegomena", sec., 2.6.30 (Social Pattern of Christian Groups in the First Century; E.A. Judge; 60).

The Woman's seed, Gn 3,15: He will "bruise the serpent's head"; the Greek word is crush and destroy (suntriboh).

The Marriage of the Lamb - will take place at the end of the Time: The Bride's adornment, unlike the ordinary marriage dress, is not temporary but eternal, Rev 19,7-9*.

* The Church (Bride) prior to the Second Coming of Christ is caught up to meet the Lord in the air (the celebration begins); at the close of the Time she (the City, the Bride) will come down from heaven, Rev 21,9f.

"I will raise him up at the last day", Jn 6,53.54 - that is, at the "last day" of present dispensation, which is the day of the First Resurrection and the Rapture.

Luke 21,24: Jerusalem will be trodden under foot a. "until" – the present age "trodding down" ended in 1948; b. the last trodding down will be when the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled - the entire section is a prophesy of the End-Time.

8.

A survey, a "timeline" of Jerusalem:

B.C. ~ 1900 Abraham blessed by Melchizedek at Salem, Gn 14,18f

~ 1000 David built an altar on Araunach's threshing floor, 2 Sam 24,18f

~ 960 Solomon dedicated the Temple, 1 Ki 8

~ 630 Jeremiach received the promise: "Jerusalem will be called the Throne of the Lord", Jer 3,17.

~ 595 The Lord declared to Ezekiel: "Jerusalem, which I have placed in the center of the nations", Ez 5,5

~ 587 Destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, 2 Ki 25,8-17

~ 540 Daniel mourned Jerusalem's destruction, Dan 9,1f(v.3f)

~ 490 "I will again choose Jerusalem", Zech 1,17A.D.

~ 30 Jesus' death, resurrection and ascension, see Gospels

70 Destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple

1917 Jerusalem released from Islamic Ottoman Empire (December 9)

1948 State of Israel reborn (May 14)

1949 West Jerusalem made capital of Israel

1950 Jerusalem divided by Jordan's annexation

1967 Jerusalem reunited (June 7)

1980 Jerusalem is declared to be the "eternal capital of the Jewish Nation" (July 30)

? The Temple of God will be rebuild, compare Dan 9,27; Mt 24,15; 2 Thess 2,4, WT

? Jerusalem will fall - Gog of Magog and his allies will use it for their head-quarter, Ez 38,14f; Dan 11,45, see WT

? The Antichrist will recapture the city and move into the Temple of God, 2 Thess 2,4f

? Jesus will return and Jerusalem will become the Holy City of the Lord - the Center of all nations, Is 2,2f

? After Christ's Millennial Kingdom the Heavenly Jerusalem will be establish v 21(v.9f)-22 - "God is all in all", 1 Cor 15,28

Some concepts:

a. The "falling away first"(v.3), then "the man of sin shall be revealed", 2 Thess 2,(v.3)7f. This falling away (of the churches) will be the outcome of an evil that has long been working in the church(es): It started in the Apostle's days - "the mystery iniquity which doth already work"; such, in an ever growing degree, has been the condition of the church ever since. But in the last days the "mystery of iniquity" will have saturated the churches and this will bear the antichrist - we have to realize (believing in the Bible) that we are deprived of all hope that the condition of the world in general will really improve morally or spiritually before our Lord's return. On the contrary, we are assured that the Christian dispensation* will end like every former dispensation, that is, in universal apostasy, only a remnant being saved according to the election of grace.

* See "The Witness of the Times", Appendix - Graphic. As it was in the days of Noah, in the days of Lot and in the days of many other great civilizations, the utter destruction is at hand.

b. A Description of the Antichrist and his spiritual supporter, Dan 11,36-39 – Rev 13,11f.

The beast, Rev 13,1f, rising up out of the sea: He is the "product" of the popular will, of which the sea is the prophetic symbol - he represents the infidel world-power, claiming universal dominion.

The beast, Rev 13,11f, rising up out of the earth: He is the head of the anti-Christian religious organization - he will be the spiritual deceiver of the people - the head of the universal religion; this religion will exclude everything which can, in the smallest possible degree offend the minds of unhallowed men. This church, headed by the False Prophet will have satan as its inspiring spirit.

c. The Mystery Babylon, Rev 17-18

In the final stage the fallen church usurping the place of the true Church of Jesus the Christ.

As the rebellion of man in Babel led to confusion, Gn 11,9, and to the division of mankind, so the rebellion of the church led to confusion and apostasy - the final stage of this is the Mystery Babylon.

The historical Babylon came before God for judgment after the Jews left it (end of their captivity), Jer 25,11.12.13 - the Mystical Babylon will be doomed after the People of God leave it, Rev 18,4.

The time has already come when the churches cannot obey the Biblical command "Ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ", Rom 15,6.

The Lord will come as a thief in the night, Mt 24,27.43 - this has reference only to the unfaithful.

d. The Two Witnesses, Rev 11,3f

Moses (and Aaron) appeared at a time when the bondage of the Israelites was drawing to its close, see Ex - the Two Witnesses will be commissioned at the close of the Church's pilgrimage (our captivity) in the world.

We know that the Gospel was (is) promulgated by a two-fold ministry, that is, an apostolic and a prophetic one - one of the Two Witnesses will be an Apostle!

e. The hour of temptation, Rev 3,10 - the trial will overtake lip-servicing "Christians" - they will have to go through the Great Tribulations. The true Christians of Philadelphia have an "open door", Rev 3,8, - they will escape - the Rapture!

f. Ar or har means "hill"; megoddo means "slaughter" - Armageddon means, therefore, the Hill of Slaughter, Rev 16,16.

g. The Advent Hope of the Primitive Church and why it was not fulfilled at that time:

"Looking and hasting unto the coming of the day of God", 2 Pe 3,12: Christians must cultivate more than a bare belief in the Lord's coming. There must be a patient and enduring waiting and watching as well as an ardent looking and longing for it! We are pilgrims who realize that nothing short of the fulfillment of the "blessed hope", Tit 2,13, can bring peace and blessing to the earth and the full redemption of mankind, Rom 8,23. As the Primitive Church abandoned her "blessed hope" and lost her "first love", Rev 2,4, she sank into the world - the Apostles (Fathers) "fell asleep", 2 Pe 3,4, the preparation for the coming was not completed and "all things have continued as they were", 2 Pe 3,4.

When Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt, it was with the prospect of marching straight through the wilderness to the Promised Land. Instead of this, because of their unbelief, they (this generation) could not enter - they had to die in the desert. Even so, the early Church through the loss of her "first love" could not "inherit" the Promised Land - the Apostles could not lead her into the "Promised Kingdom" of Christ.

h. The Hope and Disappointment of the Apostles

Peter proclaimed the joyful news of the speedy coming of the Lord, Acts 3,11f.21, "until the times of the restitution of all things": There would have been little point or power in his appeal if the prospect of the "times of refreshing" at the Lord's coming had referred to an indefinite far-off period.

But very soon this all changed, see 2 Pe 3,3f.

Paul: The first Epistle to the Thessalonians (the earliest of the epistles): "What is our hope and joy or crown or rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming?", 1 Thess 2,19, see also 4,16f. Later he foresees a falling away (apostasy) from the faith, paving the way for the Antichrist, see Acts 20,29; 1 Tim 4,1f; 2 Tim 3,1-5.

John had confirmed what Peter and Paul had experienced, see 3 Jn 9f.

i. Through the centuries, as the church(es) gradually sank into the morass of worldliness, the Holy Spirit quietly prepared the way for the time of the Church of Philadelphia (Rev 3,7f). There are many aspects to this preparation - like the equipping of individuals (commonly called Saints) to shake the church's conscience and initiate reforms within the church; later He re-discovered lost doctrines, for instance, adult baptism, "born a new" experience, the gifts of the Spirit, etc. An extraordinary step towards the preparation of renewal of the Church in preparation for the Second Coming was the rediscovery of the Apostle office, Eph 4,11. We are now reaching the time for the reestablishing of the Church in its original splendor, the Church of Philadelphia, see "The Witness of the Times" - Only one true "apostolic" Church.

j. "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?" 1 Cor 6,2. During the Millennial Kingdom the Saints will rule and judge the nations with Christ, Rev 20,4.6.

The word "judge" is employed in Scripture in a regal as well as judicial sense and the former includes the latter. The responsibilities of a ruler includes protecting and defending his people; administering justice and discerning between right and wrong.

k. Regeneration:

a. The baptized (in water and in the Spirit) are being regenerated and grafted into the Body of Christ - his soul is fashioned into the likeness of Christ; his spirit is re-borne.

b. After the resurrection (or rapture) the body will also be remade according to the pattern of Christ's glorified body, see Phil 3,21 - then and only then will our life no longer be "hid with Christ in God", Col 3,3, but the hidden life will flourish in all its glory.

ADDENDA

Continuing thoughts on Islam:

There are few records of the Arab people (the descendants of Ishmael) in antiquity except those written through the eyes of Islam.

Establishing the supremacy of Islam over all other religions, particularly Judaism and Christianity, is and has been, Islam's essential thrust.

  1. Islam sees itself as successor and superior to both Judaism and Christianity and therefore God's (which god?) final revelation of thruth.
  2. According to the Koran, Jesus is a prophet second to Muhammed.
  3. According to Islam Jews and Christians were rebellious and therefore God revealed His full truth to Muhammed to the Muslims.

The following verses illustrate Islam's superiority:

God's promises to Abraham regarding Ishmael and Isaac:

"...your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac ... as for Ishmael ... I will bless him ... but my covenant I will establish with Isaac ... (Genesis 17,18-21)

In an article in the Western Australian news-paper a Muslim cleric writes (among other things) the following about Christianity:

  1. Christians must adhere to the religious requirement of Islam and Judaism, that is, circumcision (Gal 5,2).
  2. Christians are worshipping Jesus - this is idolatry (Jn 1,1-4 - "... and the Word [Jesus Christ] was God ...).
  3. Jesus is not the Son of God (Lk 1,35).
  4. Jesus is not divine (Phil 2,5-11).
  5. The Bible is not inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Tim 3,16).
  6. Eternal life is dependant upon obeying God' laws (Rom 3,21-28 -..."justified by faith apart from the works of the law...").
  7. Jesus cannot carry the burden of sins of others (Rom 5,1-11; Col 2,13-14 - "...God made alive together with him (Christ)...").
  8. The teachings of Paul is not of God (of Jesus) (Gal 1,11-12).

II.

Content

Occult – Voices from the east - Sects

  1. Walk in the light of Christ
  2. Voices from the East:

    Acupuncture/ I Ching/ Yoga/ Martial Arts/3

  3. Other Voices from The East: Sanskrit Mantra/ Hare Krishnas/ Gurus/ Bahais, etc
  4. Some of the Eastern Cults: "Orange People"/ Hare Krishna/ the Baha'is/ The New Age

Movements (including modern music)

Fraternal Groups:

Freemasonry

The Blue Lodge

Islam

Buddhism

Hinduism

Primitive Religions

Judaism

Mormons

Jehova's Witnesses

Adventists

Liberation Theology

  1. Christian Sects

A. Group

1. Darbysten

2. The Community of Evangelical Baptists

3. The Congregation of God

4. The Congregation of Christ

5. Evangelical Union of Brothers

      1. The Church of the Nazarene
      1. The Philadelphia Movement
      2. Congregation of Christians, Eccleasia
      3. The Congregation of Emma Berger

B/C Group

B

      1. Mission-work of Werner Henkelbach
      2. Mission-work of "Midnight-call"
      3. World-wide Church of God

C. Healing-evangelization

D. The Pentecostal Experience

a. Introduction

b. The Catholic-Apostolic Church

c. The New Apostolic-Church

d. The so called "Apocalyptic" Congregation

  1. Meditation on the Bible
      1. The God of Comfort
      2. The Way of the Cross
      3. The Holy Trinity – a special view

Closing words – see Introduction (Part 1)

  1. Supplement
  1. Creation or Evolution
  2. Rock Music
  3. Bible Insights

Addenda

Occult - voices from the East - sects

1.

Introduction

It should be mentioned that the subject area, on which we are embarking to discuss, is so vast that only brief and selected issues can be mentioned. Further inquiries should be directed to the Apostles or their representatives.

Walk in the light of Christ:

The New Testament is full of statements showing us that we have to live in the Light and have to bring to Light everything in our lives. See Mt 6,22; Lk 11,34f; Jn 3,21;11,9f, etc.

As a contrast to this, the Bible shows that satan operates in darkness, in secret.

It is important to realize that we cannot live in both realms. No one should mislead you, anyone whose life (or any part of it) is not in the Light is not serving God. You cannot serve two Masters, see Mt 6,24.

How does satan work?

One of the most frequent and effective ways satan operates is in confusion. He very seldom comes out openly with a lie, he hides it. He mixes lies with truth - the truth will be used as a facade, which hides the lie. People will see the apparent good and will swallow the lie. Even if we participate unknowingly, the hidden lie will limit us in our spiritual growth, hinder us in our walk with Christ - He will never lead you in a path of half-truth. Walk in the Light!

We will mainly discuss a few groups (activities) through which satan successfully operates - the so called occult practices, non-Christian and Christian sects.

The occult, see "The Witness of the Times", Appendix - "Introduction to Genuine Christian life".

Occult* means secret, hidden, magical.

It is vital to avoid any magical practices and organizations which are "secret" or whose roots are in pagan occult practices.

It is important to examine the teachings, manipulative practices, ethical behavior, hidden and religious teachings of religious groups.

* We can obtain supernatural information from two sources only: From God or from satan. Those who turn to satan will be subjugated by him. This spiritual `stigma' will effect not only the involved person himself but also his offsprings, up to the third or fourth generation (see Ex 20,5). A deliverance ministry is necessary to release this person and his offspring from the grip of satan.

Some widely accepted occult practices:

- Spiritualism (sιance - medium)

- Horoscope - and other related fortune-telling

- Astrology

- Oscillate - psychic-powers employed

- The different forms of fortune telling

- Divination of all sorts, etc.

- UFOlogy*

See Lev 19,31;20,6.27; Hos 4,12; 1 Chr 10,13; Ex 34,5-7.12-17; 1 Sam 15,23; Hos 4,12; Gal 5,20f; Rev 21,8, etc.

*One of the latest occult phenomena.

They have supernatural origin, Lk 21,11,:

- The metaphysical message they bring is contrary to the Bible - they talk of cosmic awareness and transcendence to higher spiritual planes. They discourses never glorify Christ as God and Creator. Instead, contactees are told to prepare for an age of peace that will be ushered in by these unidentified aliens. UFO occupants encourage participation in a variety of psychic practices: Astral projection, psychokinesis, automatic handwriting, clairvoyance, levitation, etc. Sin, judgment and the redemptive work of Christ are never mentioned.

Such phenomena are creating a willingness to believe in extraterrestrial life. They reeducating mankind to accept a casual familiarity with paranormal activity. This conditioning process will be completed under the reign of the antichrist.

Scripture indicates that God created only two kinds of beings - angels and men!

2.

Voices from the East

Acupuncture (-pressure)

Before we start to deal with the different occult healing methods we have to ask the question - health at any price?

There is a very confusing array of alternative healing approaches presented today to all who are desperate for healing. Some will tell us that the map to our bodies and to diagnosis or cure of our ills is to be found in the eye, others tell us it is in the ear, and others will find it in our foot.

Not all alternative healing methods are bad or dangerous, nor are all alternative healers quacks and charlatans, but great caution is needed. There are many alternative healers (with or without qualification) who are involved in ways of New Age and occult practices.

In spite of initial feelings of well-being, experienced by an alternative practitioner, there are, however, real dangers in the long term, physically, mentally and spiritually.

It is here that the Apostle Paul's words are very appropriate: "Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil!" 1 Thess 5,21. If in doubt the Christian should consult his spiritual advisor.

As Christians we have to consider the fact that God may also have plans for your illness. See the chapter "Suffering from Christian perspective".

Some widely known alternative healing methods: Acupuncture (-pressure), different eastern meditation methods (energy ecstasy), Iridology, I Ching, Therapeutic massage, Reflexology, Homeophathy, Naturopathy, etc.

a. The term acupuncture means "to puncture with a needle": acus = needle; puncture = puncture. The treatment involves the insertion of fine needles into the body at various points which are revolved and left in place for a certain time. It is used to relieve pain, to anesthetize patients during surgery and to treat conditions ranging from arthritis to digestive problems.

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese treatment dating back to the Emperor Huang Ti, about five thousand years ago. Huang Ti concluded through the study of the stars, that harmony and balance reign in the universe. His next conclusion was that man as the microcosm must correspond to the macrocosm - that is, physical and mental processes must be put in tune with one another. To achieve this a method was developed, which was called Acupuncture.

The treatment is based upon the pagan Chinese cosmic principle of "Yin" and "Yang". In the Oriental pseudo-science of acupuncture there is the idea of the need for maintaining the balance of vital energy and vital force of Yin and Yang in the body.

Yin and Yang, according to Chinese philosophy constitute the male and female cosmic forces in the universe from which everything derives its existence. In the healing system of acupuncture the key to life and health is the maintenance of harmony between the Yin and Yang within the body. By inserting needles along the so called network of meridians that connect the 12 vital organs, the acupuncturist seeks to bring the flow of vital energy back to its normal balance. The Chinese explain it all in terms of Yin and Yang principle from their ancient pagan philosophy.

Acupuncture began as a folk method of healing, but developed its own occult mystique, some of which is still connected with the healing process.

In addition to the Yin and Yang philosophy, there is a stress upon mystical ideas and concepts, such as "Cosmic Harmony"; "The Gate of Life"; "The Chi force" and the use of pulse diagnosis. Acupuncturists who adopt the pulse diagnosis frequently are not only able to diagnose present ailments, but can also look into the past and discover previous ailments - this shows a psychic dimension, somewhat common with that of clairvoyants and mediums with ESP powers.

This "insight" has found new emphasis in the psychosomatic schools of our own century.

The basic concept of acupuncture is philosophical/religious in character, with a leaning to astrology.

The practice of acupuncture raises serious questions as to its exact nature, however, because of its pagan religious and philosophical associations (roots) acupuncture has occult associations - Christians should not resort to any questionable methods of healing.

b. I Ching:

This is a complex method of divination or fortunetelling originated by the ancient Chinese.

I Ching consists of the "Book of Changes", written by Chinese mystics, which gives the interpretation of marked yarrow sticks that are cast by the person desiring information about something. The Book of Changes contains mystic sayings, abstract principles, symbolic concepts and explanations which form the basis for divination.

The teachings of the book are based upon the concept of a constant change existing in the world, resulting from the interplay of dual cosmic principles, the Yin and Yang.

This occult book constitutes one of the Five Classics of Confucianism.

c. Yoga:

The word Yoga is derived from Sankrit. The root is underlying the Greek word "ioge" = shelter, and the Latin "jogum" = yoke, e.g. to practice yoga is to put oneself under a yoke, or seek shelter from a power.

A brief summary of this immense field:

Spiritual atmosphere of yoga:

- The higher ego of man is transcendent and immanent, without beginning and without end, it has no birth and no end- Yoga is the synthesis of the physical and metaphysical universe

- Heaven and hell are only products of the human mind

- Behind many magic, mystic and occult practices, the yoga system is present

These facts show that yoga and the Bible cannot be harmonized in the remotest way.

When we take a cross section of the most well-known forms of yoga, we recognize mainly three stages:

1. The first stage has the aim of helping the student of yoga to gain control of his consciousness and his body. This goal is achieved by means of mental and physical exercises. The mental exercise includes meditation, autogenic training, concentration and "koan" - a litany involving the continuous repetition of a mantra (secret word) - emptying the mind.

The physical exercise includes breathing exercises and various bodily postures like the "lotus position", "the cobra position", "the head-stand", etc.

This first stage is thus psychosomatic in nature - trying to produce unity of body and mind.

There are many so called Christians who believe that it is possible to practice this first stage of yoga without spiritual harm - "it is merely a matter of relaxation exercise". This technique of relaxation and "emptying-exercise", so highly spoken of by the yogis lead to the in-flowing of other spirit(s). Yoga does not liberate - it enslaves. Yoga does not free - it binds. Yoga does not enlighten - it brings confusion. Yoga does not prepare the way for the Christ - it makes man immune to redemption through Christ Jesus. Yoga does not open the door for the Holy Spirit - rather for evil spirits.

2. The second stage of yoga involves the control of the unconscious mind. When a person has mastered the second stage, he can control and guide, for instance, his visceral nerves.

3. The third stage of yoga is concerned with the mastery of (super)natural powers.

Those who undertake to take part in yoga exercises enter a force-field by which they are unwittingly directed towards the origin of those powers. These are the powers of which Paul speaks in his epistle, Col 2,15 - Christ freed us from these spirits, demons and powers.

There is an ever spreading movement called "Yoga for Christians". Look at the following statements from Christian points of view: Yoga, as Hinduism sees it, is a collection of methods designed to release the human soul from all that is earthly with the aid of asceticism, physical exercises, breathing techniques and meditation - a self-redeeming method also.

The main emphasis is placed on the cycle or rebirth, also called the transmigration or reincarnation of the soul. Only when man succeeds in purifying himself by his own effort, does he attain release and thus liberation from any further reincarnation. However the Bible says "Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment", Hebr 9,27.

Yoga is based on the theory that each soul in its nature and substance is essentially one with the divine - according to this belief, man is not a fallen being but rather God Himself - here lies an other of the subtle allurements of yoga: It teaches the definition of man.

Yogis believe that human nature is essentially good, even divine - they believe in themselves as god.

Yoga care for the individual as if it were basically good - it pampers the sinful ago and thus fosters egoism - the yoga-student is pre-occupied with himself.

The mantras, mostly used by breathing exercises, are magic formulas, which are connected with a deity - the mantra OM, for instance, present divine or cosmic forces such as the gods Vishnu, Shiva or the universal spirit of Brahman - the Bible commands us to be "filled with the Holy Spirit", Eph 5,18b.

With the perfection of the yoga exercises the yoga student will achieve more and more the "yoga consciousness", i.e. a semi-conscious state, which brings certain relaxation. In that state the yogi is increasingly one with the powers of the universe. What are these powers which are flowing into the yoga student? There are no neutral "divine" forces. The Christian knows that there is only two supernatural forces in the universe - the One God in Heaven and the "god of the present age", i.e. satan, 2 Cor 4,4.

The powers received in yoga ultimately come from the Hindu universal spirit, Brahman. The student, consciously or sub-consciously, contacting the gods of Hinduism - he comes in contact with the demonic world.

Jesus Christ has come to destroy the works of the devil and the cosmic powers of darkness, 1 Jn 3,8. "There is salvation in no one else! Under all heaven there is no other name for men to call upon to save them" than the name of Jesus, see Acts 4,12.

d. Martial Arts; Karate and related practices

There are many conflicting h i s t o r i c a l theories regarding the origin of this "art". The account stated here is a widely accepted survey that traces the general history of the Martial Arts and goes back to the dawn of civilization in India and nearly three millenniums in China where it developed more extensively.

By the establishment of the feudal states in 770 B.C. in China, Kung fu was widely practiced. During the boxer rebellion of 1900 were the martial arts partially eliminated from the main-land. In 1928 they were renamed War Arts and were accorded national recognition.

Over the centuries various aspects of the arts were modified and eventually developed into more or less violent types; northern and southern schools and hard and soft forms.

Kung fu was the original all-inclusive term describing the martial arts. Later, specific names were applied to its variations: Karate, Tai chi, Judo, Jujitsu, Aikido, Tae Kwon Do (in Korea), etc.

The religious foundations has common, pagan origins. The original religious philosophy dates back as far as 2696 B.C., where it was rooted in the occultic forms of divinations known as the I-Ching and the "Book of Changes". Lao Tzu, the Chinese sage born in 604 B.C. added further demonic embellishments. His teaching were set forth in a manuscript called "Tao te ching", often called simply "the tao", or "the way". He taught that salvation could not be found in prayer but rather by the observance of nature, the natural way: As the trees bend with the wind and the rivers follow the path of least resistance, so must man adopt this rhythm of co-existence with evil and wrong.

With the adoption of Taoism, the "arts" developed into a complex system of occult practices that included contemplation and breathing exercises.

The next development took place when a monk named Bodhidharma brought Buddhism to China in the sixth century A.D. Later it was combined with philosophical principles of Zen and developed to a highly sophisticated form of weaponless defense. As the Martial Arts spread beyond the monastery to the fields of war, some of the religious flavor was lost.

Eventually two schools of martial arts developed: ch'uan fe (kung fu) based on the hard school of Buddhism; the soft school based on Taoism.

After centuries of countless adoptions the martial arts evolved into the basic forms now known in the western world. It is important to note that the essential belief system behind these disciplines has never been abandoned.

While the various forms of Martial Arts have differing practices, they all have similar religious presuppositions. Because of their founding in Taoism and Buddhism, the entire universe is viewed as an interplay of harmonizing opposites - Yin and Yang. These principles are realized by the relaxed state of equilibrium produced by meditation and body movements - each movement is uninterrupted and flowing. The end of one move is the beginning of the next. Thus, the Yin and Yang are balanced. When the goal of stilled senses is achieved, this balanced harmony leads to one's emergence with the Universal Consciousness. Such theological footing is pantheism and the doctrine of "oneness" is incompatible with Christian belief. The Bible teaches a fallen creation with which there is no harmony until it has been restored by Christ's return.

To the Christian, salvation comes by the finished work of the cross where Christ was sacrificed for man's sin. And it is by His resurrection that we have hope of eternal life. Salvation in Zen is merely the comprehension of our basic divine essence which is a manifestation of the Universal Soul.

Salvation in eastern mysticism, represented in these "arts", is achieved by comprehending the divine essence of man, who is the manifestation of the universal soul. Such enlightenment may be shared by sending forth "ki" to illuminate the spiritual darkness of the world.

Ki is widely known in the occult as the "life-energy-creative force of the universe". Advanced practitioners of the different arts cultivate "ki" to such an extent that they can knock a man down by barely touching him or by merely pointing a finger at him.

Some may be seeking an effective means of self-protection or believing to pursue a self-development of some sort. But the inherent principles of paganism underlying these arts give the participant more than he bargained for.

Whether the form of arts one practices is based on the doctrine of naturalism found in Taoism or the doctrine of illusion found in Buddhism, the philosophical basis of both explicitly deny the blood atonement of Christ.

The Christian practitioner of these arts must ask himself:

- Whether any involvement in such physical disciplines implies an inherent approval of the religious principles behind them?

- Can one separate the tree from its roots? - Can one divorce these arts from their mystical aspects?

The symbols used in Martial Arts are:

- Spiral figuration, derived from the occult I-Ching and represent the belief in re-incarnation and cyclical evolution. The theory of re-incarnation makes Christ's sacrificial death superfluous.

- The double fish symbol represents the harmonizing opposites of Yin and Yang.

In Korea, the arts were known as Tae Kwon Do, and they were honed into their highest forms of proficiency in Okinawa.

Though one often thinks of the arts as "made in Japan", they have many roots and cultural variations.

3. Other Voices from the East

Sanskrit Mantra

Hare Krishnas

Gurus

Bahais, etc.

Swami Shankarananda, one of the world renowned master of meditation said "Meditation should be introduced into all schools to open the minds of students and teachers. This would allow greater and deeper learning..." - of what? Jesus said: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid", Jn 14,27. "I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father, but by me" Jn 14,6.

4. Some of the Eastern Cults

A few reasons why they spread:

Some people rejected Christianity and are seeking something mystical and mysterious.

The promise of special insight, or esoteric knowledge pampers the vanity of some.

Both humanism (see one of the latest children of this movement, that is psychology) and eastern mysticism emphasize the value and importance of Self and see the ultimate aim for every individual the Self-realization.

Eastern cults generally emphasizes a simple lifestyle and the devaluation of materialism - true also of Christianity.

Some of these movements (and their activities like meditation) are recommended by many people - from doctors to educators, from health buffs to entertainers - it is definitely the "in thing".

a. The "Orange People" - Sannyasins (devotees) of Shree Rajneesh, worshipers of the Guru: Mediation, seminars (teachings), commune-living.

b. Hare Krishna - The "Knowledge" is revealed by Guru Maharaj Ji. Their organization - ISKCON = International Society for Krishna Consciousness.

c. The Baha'is - Baha'u'llah = The Light of God. The guru is called by his devotees as "Lord of the Universe". For members of his Divine Light Mission the ultimate answer is to be found in knowledge - "It is only possible to receive that Knowledge when we go to the Guru".

The Baha'i Faith originated by Mirza `Ali Muhammed, later known as the Bob or the "Gate." He proclaimed in 1844 that "God the Exalted had elected him to the station of Babhood." His followers came under severe persecution and eventually Bob himself was executed by Armenian soldiers in 1850.

One of Bob's followers, Mirza Husayn `Ali, later known as Baha`u'llah (the Glory of God) assumed leadership of the growing group.

The writings of Baha'u'llah (died 1892) and his son, Abdu'l'Baha (died 1921) are revered and considered scripture by the Baha'is. Some principles are:

1. The oneness of mankind

2. The oneness of religion3. The independent search after `Truth'

4. A World Commonwealth

5. World Peace

6. The relinquishing of prejudices

7. A universal auxiliary language

8. Equality of the sexes

9. The harmony of religion and science

10. Educational opportunities for every person

11. The endeavor to equalize the distribution of wealth

Let us observe a few of the teachings:

1. Oneness of religions: Are all one?

The Baha'i teaching is that all religions are in essence one. Let's give a brief synopsis of a few major religions and see if they are `one.'

The Hindu concept of God is a confused mixture of pantheism and polytheism. There is no personal God to the Hindu and no set creed. The way to `salvation' is purely by human effort and repeated reincarnations.

The Buddhist philosophy is also pantheistic and salvation is dependent on the Four Noble Truths and adherence to the Eight-fold Path of human works.

Islam is a monotheistic religion that rejects Jesus Christ as God and man's savior. It believes that salvation comes from adherence to strict moral laws and commitment to God. Mohammed is Islam's holy prophet who brought true knowledge of God and is esteemed above all other prophets. Islam accepts Jesus only as a prophet and good teacher.

Christians believe Jesus is the Messiah, God come in the flesh, prophesied in the Old Testament who came to spiritually liberate us from sin by His atoning death on the cross.

The Jews are still looking for their savior or Messiah.

Christianity believes in the One God who is revealed is scripture as Father, Son and Holy Spirit - the Trinity, that man is born a sinner and deserves death but is justified before God and can freely receive salvation (forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God) through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus overcame sin and death for us by His death and resurrection. Christians believe that we can have a personal relationship with God. Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, born of a virgin and that He is God as well as man.

2. Manifestation and not incarnation:

The Baha'is make a distinct difference between manifestations and incarnation. The Manifestations of God are mirror images of God reflected by chosen men to bring enlightenment to men of a certain period but they are only reflections and not the essence of God.

The Baha'i Faith believes in progressive revelation: God periodically sends his prophets to guide and assists mankind. This prophet or manifestation of God brings laws and teachings which apply to the needs of man at his particular time but which are not necessarily meant to be permanent.

Each Educator brings a message for his time: Krishna brought the message of their time just as Buddha, Zoroaster, Moses, Jesus Christ and Muhammed brought God's message for their time.

The Baha'is revere the prophets for their special spiritual position and as a source of knowledge but do not recognize any as God incarnate.

Baha'is do not accept Jesus Christ as the incarnate God and reject all Christian teachings of this by explaining that His disciples perverted His words and teachings.

Baha'is believe Baha'u'llah to be the culmination of God's manifestation for this day and to be superior in the revelations he brought. The writings of Baha'u'llah, since they are God's last manifestations, are considered to have final authority.

Biblical views:

2a. Incarnation: The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh: "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word WAS God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made...And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father," see Jn 1,1-3.14: Jesus existed before the world began; Jesus is distinct from God, the Father yet in complete oneness with Him; Jesus is identical in essence with God, the Father; Through Jesus the universe was created; Jesus is the source of life and light for all men; God, the Word (Jesus) became flesh or incarnate as a human being.

The truth of the incarnation is so important and so connected with every other doctrine of Christianity, that if it is denied Christianity cannot be sustained as genuine.

1 John 4,1-6 talks about the importance of the incarnation of Jesus and states that it is the spirit of the antichrist which denies Jesus was God in the flesh. This is THE Basic Error, denial of the incarnation, that most false prophets and cults make.

Baha'u'llah's denial of the incarnation biblically classifies him as a false prophet and as of the spirit of the antichrist.

The Bible also says in 1 Jn 2,22.23 that those who deny the Son ALSO deny the Father and calls all liars who deny Jesus (compare all religions in the light of this).

2b. The purpose of the incarnate Christ:

The purpose of Jesus Christ coming to earth was for man's salvation from sin and death.

The Bible tells us that man is born a sinner, incapable of perfection by his own efforts.

The Bible presents Jesus Christ's death on the cross for payment of our sins as the only solution to man's sinfulness, see Is 53,5.6.

Christianity believes in the necessity of a personal salvation for all mankind dependent on faith alone.

Jesus Christ is the only adequate means for bringing man into a right relationship with God, see Rom 3,21-25.

Baha'is deny the basic sinful nature of man and present education as the solution to his social and spiritual problems.

The Baha'is hold that a personal salvation is not necessary. "For our modern life, therefore, Christianity is not only incidentally or accidentally inadequate; it is inherently, absolutely and permanently inadequate..." Horace Holley, Religion for Mankind, Baha'i Publishing Trust, p.20-22.

2c. The resurrection:

The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is also a basic foundation of the Christian Faith. "If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain" (1 Cor 15,14). In His death He paid the price for our sins, in His resurrection He conquered death. The Baha'i Faith denies the bodily resurrection and justifies the Biblical accounts by saying it was a spiritual resurrection of the disciples faith after Jesus Christ's death that enabled them to boldly proclaim the Gospel. See some corresponding statements in Abdu'l 'Baha - Some Answered Questions, pp. 120-121.

2d. The Second Coming:

When Jesus returns "every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord," Phil 2,9-11; also Is 45,23. His appearance will be public and all the world shall view it, see Mt 24,29-31. See also Rom 14,10-12; 2 Cor 5,10.

"If you are of the Christian Faith which had its origin approximately the year 1, your prophecy concerning the `return of Christ in the glory of the Father' has been fulfilled. His new name in this day is Baha`u'llah, which means `The Glory of God'" - One Universal Faith, Baha'i Publishing Trust.

Baha'u'llah took Jesus' promise to the disciples for the coming of the Comforter, the Spirit of the Truth promised by Jesus to bring the world into all truth and declared that he was the comforter, the spirit of the truth - "The Promised Day is Come," by Shoghi Effendi, pp. 26-27.

2e. Jesus Christ, God's only Provision:

In Christianity, Jesus Christ is God's only provision to make Himself fully known to man.

"And there is no salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved," Acts 4,12.

The FOUR major areas satan undermines the Gospel are:

1. The sovereignty of God;

2. The Deity of Christ;

3. The final authority of God's Word;

4. The Second Coming of Christ.

These remain the same in every cult as in the Baha'i Faith. Baha`u'llah is a false prophet and of the spirit of antichrist. Jesus warned us about such men coming to deceive the people and blind their eyes to God's only Provision for them, see 2 Jn 7.

d. The New Age Movement - is a synthesis of Eastern religions and the old "Mystery Teachings", a combination of Gnosticism and Spiritism; based on esoteric (secret) teachings transmitted by demonic entities. This accounts for the varied forms of occultism it includes such as clairvoyance, astrology, ufology, yoga practices, mythology, pantheism, the belief in re-incarnation and the renaissance of witchcraft. This aspired New World Order has no room for the God of the Christians.

Even children and teenagers are being influenced by New Age ideas through a barrage of fantasy games, videos, films, comic books, party games, occult music, etc.

Behind a facade of apparently harmless themes, such as healthy eating and fitness they include occult techniques like psychic healing, visualization, yoga, positive thinking, etc. The latter is based on the assumption that the mind through suggestion can accomplish and create anything that it believes it can.

The New Age Movement universally proclaims that man is god and "man created god in his own image".

Some of the following we will find in all cults:

Emptying the mind, worship of a guru, worship of your own self; Christ is not unique - the gurus are regarded as His equals, if not superior. Jesus said: "I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but by me", Jn 14,6.

The New Age and our children

Our children are in great danger! Beware of occult games, magazines, films and music. Here we can mention only a few*:

Games:

Dungeons & Dragon (D&D); Fantasy Role-Playing (FRP).

Films:

The Sword and the Sorcerer; Star-war (Giddy; the power; the source; the force)

- what kind of force? what power? There are only two sources: God or the devil.

Magazines:

Different Worlds, Pegasus, Sorcerer's Apprentice

Music:

For instance Death Metal

Music is a great influence in anybody's especially in teenagers' lives: It sets up their whole value system - they choose their behaviors on the basis of those values...it is more than entertainment, it's education: It's teaches people (especially kids) stuff!

Do you know what your kids are listening to?

A commitment to a rock-subculture is symptomatic predominantly of adolescent alienation.

Fascination with rock music (involvement in the rock culture) is often associated with people having greater tendencies to be low achievers, involved in drugs, alcohol, sexual promiscuity, having anti-social behavior, committing suicide, and even involved in satanic activities. This kind of music is an expression of their alienation from school, learning experience, society and life in general. Music might be used as a clue to what might be going on with people.

Basically there is no such thing is Christian-Rock (see chapter on Rock Music).

Beware of the influence of modern music - some of them have harmless or even christianly acceptable texts, but the rhythm is pagan in origin (fostered by the New Age movement). You cannot divorce, whatever it is, from its roots.

Generally, classical music is recommended - generally speaking because there are also classical music with occult content, like Mozart's "Magic Flute".

In discerning what is acceptable from Christian points of view, learn to listen to the Holy Spirit - "he will guide you into all truth", Jn 16,13, - and listen to His Church.

Discerning is a learning process - we have to accept that we are in different stages (level) of spiritual development.

In good fantasy the ultimate triumph is of good over evil. There is a valid place for fantasy, role playing, drama and the like, but the above mentioned* is contrary to our Christian world-view - namely there is an emphasis on occult involvement with continuing reinforcement that such involvement is quite normal. The display of a variety of occult powers throughout these entertainment is dangerous and may lead to join the real occult practices - it leads to demonic subjugation.

These entertainment lower the value and dignity of people (people are designated as "monster-fodder", "slaves to do one's bidding"). Normal people (without occult powers) are regarded as worthless and sub-human and similar belittling of people.

These entertainment are addictive - partakers can become subject to reality distortion, where the fantasy world becomes their reality and vice versa.

*Concepts involved:

Clairvoyance = perceive object or events beyond the recognized range of sense organs - it is a satanic counterfeit of the gift of Prophesy.

Clairaudience = hearing beyond the recognized, etc.

Telepathy = communication of one mind with the other by means other than ordinary speaking, writing or gesturing.

Telekinesis = production of motion in an object as by a spiritualist medium without physical contact or application of force.

Necromancy = act or practice of predicting the future by communicating with the dead.

Black-magic; Sorcery.

Augury = predicting.

Divination as by occult means discovering that which is hidden, etc.

If you have had any occult involvement, contact your spiritual advisor.

IV. Secret Organizations

Here again we are restricted - if in doubt of the identity of any organization, please, contact your spiritual advisor.

Freemasonry

Freemasonry describes itself:

"We are one of the world's oldest secular fraternal societies, concerned with moral and spiritual values. We are open to men of any race or religion who believe in a Supreme Being and are of good repute".

Basic to any study of a group (society) is the doctrine of God. We, Christians believe in One God who manifests himself in Three Ways: The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Different Lodges - Fraternal groups:

Freemasonry is a satanic cult!

1.The Masonic Lodge

Freemasons are required to believe in a Supreme Being, called the Great Architect of the Universe. At various points in masonic rituals prayers is offered to this Being.

The doctrine of Christ is a second essential Christian teaching. The Freemasons "Supreme Being" is a collective concept of different religions - "we are open to men of any religion"...this Being has to be such so as not offend or interfere with any religion. We Christians believe that Jesus is "the way, the truth and the life", Jn 14,6 and "no one comes to the Father but by me"!

Prayers in Freemasonry are never offered in the name of Jesus Christ. The latest attempt in some Masonic lodges to incorporate Christ in their rituals (to cover up their true and heavily criticized movement), making Him equal with this "Supreme Being", makes the entire issue even worse - Jesus becomes a part of that collective concept.

There are documented cases of Masonic services in which Christian prayers have been altered to remove the name of Christ. Anyone who confess a "God" who is not the Head of the Trinity and the Father of the Eternal Son, Jesus Christ, is confessing a false god. He is committing idolatry. Again, Christ is the only way to God and there is no other Name by which we can be saved but Jesus, Jn 4,6; Acts 4,12; 1 Cor 6,11; Phil 2,9f.

Another difficulty with Freemasonry is that Masonic practices imply salvation by works, through charitable giving and mutual aid. Such a belief makes Christ's redemptive death void, see Rom 4,2f; Gal 2,21; 1 Pe 1,18f.

Walk in the light of Christ!

A further difficulty with Freemasonry is the secrecy (lately desperately denied). Although Freemasonry claims not to be a religion or a religious movement, its rituals contain religious practices and carry religious overtones. Freemasonry concerns itself with spiritual values and many masons regard their progress in the society as a spiritual journey marked by the various rites. In the rite of initiation for the first degree explicit reference is made to material light, but the context of the ritual, and the accompanying charge to the candidate strongly suggests a spiritual passage from darkness to light as well. During this ceremony the candidate is required to ask for light; the candidate is congratulated on being admitted to the light of the order.

The right of raising to the third degree includes the symbolic death of the candidate and a raising from this figurative death by ritual means. In Christianity the symbolic rite of passing from death to new life is the rite of baptism in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. This rite is based on the unique death of Jesus. Any other rites claiming the same effect is not of God, the Head of the Trinity.

One of the secrets revealed in this degree is the name of the Supreme Being of the Freemasons. His name is JAHBULON. JAH BUL ON are gods in different religions! The syncretism as an attempt to unite different religions into one, is unacceptable to Christianity. The name, mentioned above is certainly not the name of our Father-God! Whose name is it then?, see 2 Cor 4,4;11,14.

It is often claimed that Freemasonry is "Christian". It is claimed because of its charitable activities (the most we can accredit it with is humanistic). Let us make a few further statements here in order to clarify the Church's point of view:

If anyone makes the assumption that Christianity is a system by which we can reach God by good works, he has slid back into the Law, into the Old Testament. Christianity is - God reaching out for man. See Gal 2,16 and the Letter to the Romans.

Those who become Freemasons (joining any secret organizations) will be excommunicated from the Church of Christ.

2.The Blue Lodge

In the initiation ceremonies of each of the three degrees in this Lodge the candidates are compelled to take oaths pledging themselves to complete secrecy in the matters of Masonic ritual and instruction which are about to be revealed to them - these oats require the initiate to bind himself to things unknown by him in advance of his swearing.

Additionally, in the second and third degrees, lodge members are compelled to abide by the principles, laws and regulations of the degree into which they are being initiated.

Concerning other matters of this Fraternal group, see the remarks above (Masonic Lodge).

V. Other Religions

Let us make a basic statement: There is only one true "religion" and that is Christianity.

Before we discuss error, we have to show the truth:

Scripture is the authoritative word of truth on all matters of basic doctrine:

"The grass withers, the flowers fades, but the word of our God stands forever", Is 40,8;

"The Lord is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King", Jer 10,10;

"There is no other God beside me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none except me", Is 45,22;

"God is love", 1 Jn 4,8-9;

"The Lord is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth", Ps 145,18;

"No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him", Jn 1,18;

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth", Gn 1,1;

"For by him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth", Col 1,16(f);

"God created man in his own image", Gn 1,27;

"Through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners", Rom 5,19;

"Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other", Is 45,22;

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life", Jn 3,16;

"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast", Eph 2,8-9;"For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes", Rom 10,4;

"There is no salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved", Acts 4,12;

"I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through me", Jn 14,6;

"Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt", Dan 12,2;

"Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires", Gal 5,24;

"Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bond-slaves of God", 1 Pe 2,16;

"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law", Gal 5,22-23;

"Tell of his glory among the nations, his wonderful deeds among all the peoples. For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised", 1 Chron 16,24-25.

Let us look at some of the false religions - Here again we have to restrict ourselves to a few.

1.Islam      (additional teachings)

Islam is a false religion - a satanic religion!

A dialogue between Christianity and other religions (like Islam) is impossible. A dialogue means an exchange of ideas between two (or more) equal partners. Christianity has no equals! Between Christianity and other religions we can speak only from missionary outreach! Love of our neighbors (see Mt 22,39) demands of us to tell them the truth and the truth will set them free (compare Jn 8,32).

History and teaching:

Muhammed (or Mohammed) (~ 570-632) introduced his teachings in Arabia in the sixth century AD.

Islam means "surrender" or "submission" to the will of allah, the god of Islam.

Muslim or Moslem means "one who submits".

Allah comes from the word illah, that is, "the god". Allah in NOT Yahweh!

Islam combines some elements from Judaism and Christianity. It accepts some Old and New Testament personalities like Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and John. It accepts Jesus as a prophet, but it claims that Mohammed is greater than Jesus.

Muhammed, searching for answers, began to receive frightening revelations which were accompanied by violent seizures. These revelations supposedly were coming from the angel Gabriel and were written down by Muhammed's followers in a book called the Koran (Qur'an = recitation).

Islam is divided into different sects. The two best known are the Summi (Summites) and the Shiah (Shiites).

Basic to any study of a cult, or religion is the doctrine of God. The basic doctrine of Islam is the unity of allah (the name of god in Islam) - "allah is one". Who is that one god of the Islam?

The five doctrines of Islam:

1. Allah is the one true god.

2. Muhammed is the messenger of allah.

3. The most important inspired book is the Koran. The other less important books are: The Pentateuch (Tauret); Psalms (Zabut); Evangels (Injil). Jews and Christians are regarded as "people of the book". However, the Koran is THE Book of allah.

4. There are angels - good and bad (djinn). The leader of the djinns is satan (shaitan).

5. There will be a day of judgment. The Islam's heaven is a place of sensuous delight.

The five pillars of Islam:

Five demands are made by Islam on its adherents.

1. The creed (shahadah): "There is no god but allah and Muhammed is his prophet". This creed must be said laud, publicly and with conviction in order for one to be a believer.

2. The practice of prayer (salat): Five appointed times a day:

"Allah is most great" (allah u acbar");

"I witness that there is no god beside allah";

"I witness that Muhammed is the messenger of allah".

3. Alms-giving (zakat): The "voluntary" alms are a given % of all that the person possesses.

4. Fasting (sawm): During the month of Ramadan, during the daylight hours (ninth month of the Islamic year). Muslims are required to abstain from food, drink and sexual intercourse.

5. The pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj): It is a devotion to allah.

There is only one saviour...Jesus the Christ the Son of God

Sin and salvation:

Islam makes no real provision for sin.

Allah has done nothing for the salvation of man.

One's salvation is never certain since it is based on a works system and on complete surrender to the will of allah.

Muhammed did not rise from the dead and consequently there is no basis for a resurrection in Islam.

Salvation in Islam requires that one must be a member of the Islamic faith.

The Koran rejects the notion of redemption: Salvation depends on a man's action and attitudes.

Forgiveness is conditioned upon good works and allah's choice of mercy.

The concept of a loving God is foreign to the Muslim mind. Allah is not a god of love. Compare the Bible Jn 3,16; 2 Cor 13,11b; 1 Jn 4,16.

Muslim salvation is fatalistic ' allah's predestination. The Koran: "God leads astray whomsoever he will, and he guides whomsoever he will..."

Islam cannot describe allah except in negatives, i.e., he is not spirit, not love and so on. The moral nature of allah: The Qur'an (the holy scripture of Islam) says that allah is the creator of everything, good and evil - moral evil included. It says "allah breathed into it (the soul) its wickedness and its piety" (sura - The Sun = a sura is a chapter from the Qur'an). Allah contains within himself two contradictory elements - good and evil. Allah is an absolute free being having no limitations of any sort; that is, he has not bound himself by any promises or pledges by which man can hope and say God has said this and His nature demands that He fulfill it.

Allah is to great to be affected or influenced by anything his creatures say, think or do.

Allah's indifference to the lost, stands in complete contrast to the God of the Bible who seeks to save the sinner from eternal death. There is no real concept of forgiveness. Allah does what he pleases and because he never promised anything, the Moslem can only hope that if he fulfills the requirements of his religion then allah will allow him eternal happiness.

In Islam, there is no concept of sin or living in state of sin. A Moslem can fail allah if he does not keep his teachings and does not fulfill his religious obligations, for instance, if he does not fast, give alms, prays his daily obligatory prayers, etc.

In Christianity God has revealed Himself; not just His laws or things about Him, but Himself. He made Himself known in Jesus Christ as a personal God. Jesus said "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father", Jn 14,9. The Old Testament idea of God finds its full expression in the relationship of the Lord Jesus with His heavenly Father. Jesus has made it possible to say to God, "Father". You will never hear a Moslem say that.

In Jesus we see God's uncompromising rejection of sin. He saves the prodigal sinner: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life", Jn 3,16.

Man in Islam: There is no possibility of being united with God. In fact, any such claim would make one guilty of "shirk", the unforgivable `sin' in Islam of being put alongside allah.

Man in Christianity: The Bible teaches that man was/is created in the image of God, with the capacity for sharing the very nature of God Himself. He was meant to glorify God to enjoy God's presence, favor and blessing forever.

The woman in Islam: The woman has a secondary role in relationship to man. She is not equal to man. Her status is a status of a slave, she is a subservient being. There is no real concept of salvation for women.

The woman in Christianity: Man and woman are equal. They are both the children of God. They have different rolls in family and Church but they path to salvation is the same - through the acceptance of the saving grace of God. The husband must love his wife (see Eph 5,25), she is not his slave.

Sin in Islam: There is no concept of sin in Islam, like in Christianity. For us sin is a turning away from God, transgressing God's will. This transgression results in being in a state of sin. In Islam, sin, rather failing, is the breaking of a code of law given through their prophet Mohammed.

Forgiveness in Islam - is bound up in man's own work (sura Thunder 21,24). Through set prayers, fasting, etc. he may be forgiven. The Moslem has no ground of assurance of forgiveness but must leave it to allah. In Christianity sin is when man is dethroning God from his heart. Man will receive forgiveness based on the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. Forgiveness is received through repentance toward God and trust in the Lord Jesus.

The position of Jesus Christ in Islam: He is a prophet like Mohammed and not the Son of God.

Qur'an is not just the Holy scripture but THE Scripture. By further examination of this "scripture" we discover fundamental contradictions between the Qur'an and the Bible - as a matter of fact, if we examine older traditions of this "scripture" with later ones we discover that certain parts were re-interpreted because of internal contradictions.

The prophet Mohammed was, according to Islam, THE prophet of allah. The Qur'an was revealed to Mohammed. One of the revelation to him was about Jesus: "The Angel Gabriel said to Mohammed - "Jesus is the son of Mary". The Bible says: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will over shadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God", Lk 1,35. For the Moslem Jesus is just a man; for us Christians He is the Son of God - He is God! Who then was that angel "gabriel" who brought the "heavenly" message to Mohammed? God will not contradict Himself!

2.Buddhism

Buddhism arose out of atheistic strands of Hinduism current in India.

In the sixth century B.C. (560 BC in what is now Nepal) Gautama, called the Buddha ("Enlightened One"), is said to have discovered that both the life of luxury and the life of extreme asceticism were of no use in gaining spiritual freedom; thus he propounded the "Middle Way". His teaching (he taught for 45 years), however, was to undergo many transformation.

The different Schools: Mahayana, Therevada (more austere) and Zen.

There are so many Buddhist sects (opposing schools of thoughts and practices) that anything said about Buddhism as a whole must be very general.

No form of Buddhism has a place for the Biblical doctrines of God, man, sin, salvation or resurrection. Buddhist sects are polytheistic (worship more than one god), pantheistic (the universe, [nature] and God is identical) or atheistic.

Buddha said: "Be ye lamps unto yourself."

"Look not for refuge to anyone beside yourself."

"Work out your salvation with diligence."

The Buddhist Four Noble Truths:

1. Life is basically suffering or dissatisfaction;

2. The origin of that suffering lies in craving or grasping;

3. Suffering can be overcome by eliminating these cravings;4. The way to cease craving and so attain escape from continual rebirth (reincarnation) is by following Buddhist practices, known as the Noble Eight-fold Path:

1. the knowledge of the truth - that is to know how to escape reincarnation;

2. controlling one's feelings and thoughts;

3. practicing concentration (meditation);

4. striving to free one's self;

5. the intention to resist evil - that is, cravings;

6. respecting life - that is, to accept one's destiny;

7. holding a job;

8. saying nothing hurtful - that is, keep your tongue, be silent and meditate.

There is no absolute God in Buddhism - those seeking enlightenment need to concentrate on their own spiritual paths themselves rather than relying on an outside support.

Both the beginning and the ultimate nature of the world are left unexplained by the Buddha - those questions are not helpful to consider. Buddha was not concerned with ultimate truths.

As with Hinduism Buddhism sees the cycle of reincarnation as shot through with pain.

The Buddha added the notion that all creatures, including man, are fictions; there is really no "self", only a series of occurrences that appear to be individual persons and things.

Salvation in Buddhism - the Buddhist believes to end the cycle of rebirth by following Buddhist practices, known as the Noble Eight-fold Path. The end of this cycle is the Nirvana, meaning

"blowing out", as with the flame of a candle - that is, nothing can be said about it except that it is a transcendent, permanent state. Buddha came from the Yoga-tradition.

The different schools:

- The Theravada style is dominant mainly in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Laos, Cambodia and Burma.

- The Mahayana school, that is, The Greater Vehicle, developed from 200 BC. Here the Buddha often takes a mystical triple manifestation. The ideal is the Bodhisattva, a sort of saint who delays entry into Nirvana to help others achieve the goal. The Mahayana now includes the famous Zen sect and is found mainly in China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam.

In Zen Buddhism there are no basic standards of right and wrong. The lack of basic moral direction makes this religion a liability and not an asset. At present, there are some attempts to correct this damaging condition. That is, there are some Buddhist masters teaching certain moral principles, like prohibiting killing, stealing, illicit sexual relationships, wrong speech, drugs and alcohol.

- The Vajrayana, that is, The Diamond Vehicle, developed Mahayana again from about AD 700 and is the dominant form in Tibet.

In some sects added elements include visualization, mapping of dreams of consciousness (mandalas), ritual uses of sacred gestures (mudras) and sacred syllables (mantras). Layers of esoteric initiations are offered and some sects explore the spiritual potential of sexual energy.

In practice all three traditions overlap and local variations continually evolve.

3.Hinduism

During the fourth century B.C. Aryans - the same people that developed Greek culture - conquered much of present-day India. Their gods, similar to that of the Greeks, combined with indigenous pantheistic Indian traditions formed a loose combination of beliefs and practices that came to be known as Hinduism. "Orthodox" Hindus can be either pious worshipers of a god or atheists, self-negating ascetics or men of the world.

The different directions: Advaita Vedanta, Jainism and Sikh (unite elements of Hinduism and Islam).

Many gods or incarnation of gods are worshiped by Hindus. Chief among them are Shiva= Lord of Dance (representing the creative and destructive sides of divinity), Vishnu (incarnated himself many times through history), Krishna (an impetuous, violent and erotic figure); many lesser cults worship a complex variety of gods, all of whom are usually seen as manifestations of the god Brahma (usually described as an impersonal being completely above all creation and uninvolved with life on earth).

There is no real understanding of sin, rather, for instance, an ignorance of the truth (see the Four Yogas) is considered as wrong.

The concept of god: a. There is only one reality, that is, Brahman; b. god and the universe is identical, that is, all is god, god is all = pantheism; c. three-theism, that is, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva; d. many gods = polytheism; e. there is no god= atheism (Hinduism can accommodate almost anything).

The material universe is not the creation of a personal God but is rather a sort of unconscious emanation from the divine. As such it is unreal, an illusion.

Each human soul has gone through a series of reincarnations - all present suffering is deserved, being the paying back of one's wrong doings.

"Karma", that is, the accumulation of deeds done in past lives will determine the status of the person's future incarnation, future destiny. All present wrong doings will be repaid, in the form of suffering, in future lives.

The final goal, or salvation, in Hinduism is to escape from the endless rounds of birth, death and rebirth. That means, the dissolving of all personality into the unimaginable abyss of Brahma (or Brahman), into nirvana.

For the above mentioned reason a charitable intervening in the life of a sufferer (helping the poor and the needy, etc.) is wrong, because it interferes with his "carma". That is, the mitigation of his suffering (which is the result of his wrong-doings) means that he has to come back again (reincarnate) and made no progress in his cycle of reincarnation.

Four "Yogas" (see comments to Yoga meditation in this manuscript) or ways of reaching such salvation, are described:

- "Jnana yoga" - the way of knowledge - that is, to know how to avoid reincarnation;

- "Bhakti yoga" - the way of devotion of a divine being;

- "Karma yoga" - the way of action: Striving toward salvation by performing works;

- "Raja yoga" - the meditative yoga.

Hindus have a magical and legalistic notion that one can acquire spiritual "points" through contact with all manner of holy objects and persons.

Animals such as cows, monkeys and snakes are revered. Certain rivers - the Ganges in particular - are thought holy, and bathing in them is thought to improve one's "karma".

Holy men are highly revered, and in serving them Hindus hope that some of their holiness will rub off and aid them to salvation.

4.Primitive Religions

It is also a religion of man without divine guidance, trying to make his peace with the mysterious powers of nature.

Primitive peoples believe in a large number of gods - they generally lacking in mercy and love.

Hopes for salvation generally relate to the group (to which one belongs) and to this world.

A primitive man expects to merge with his ancestors in another world when he dies, but that other world is not vividly described.

Temporary escape into the realm of "sacred time" ("dream time") are possible. Through reenactment of mythological events primitive men mystically participate in the actions of gods.

Survival of the group is of paramount importance.

In many basic areas moral standards are much the same throughout the world. Lying, cheating, stealing and murder are generally forbidden. But often those rules apply only within the group.

Primitive morality is thus largely a matter of transactions, of acting in ways that will benefit the self and the community.

Worship also has the purpose of binding members of the community together, of giving them a sense of common purpose.

"Totemism", the use of certain animals, plants, and even human artifacts is common.

Fasting, self-mortification and drugs are used to attain states of trance. The purpose is to obtain communication from the world of spirits.

Each group usually has at least one "holy man".

5.Judaism

The Jews are unique in that they maintained their identity in the midst of a large number of diverse cultures.

Judaism has had a profound effect on beliefs and practices throughout the West and Near East.

There is a large variety of Jewish groups and nationalities. One loose way of dividing modern Judaism is into five groups:

- Orthodox Jews - maintain strict adherence to traditional customs;

- Reform or Liberal Jews - attempt to adjust to contemporary culture in a humanistic manner;

- Conservative Jews - try to forge a middle way between the previous two;

- Hasidic Jews - follow a mystical path;

- Messianic Jews- followers of Jesus the Christ; awaiting His return.

The complete unity of God - both as a powerful, just ruler and as a merciful, loving deliverer - is central to Judaism.

God is not merely some supreme force but is a person, one with emotions of anger, sadness and joy. He desires to share the full gamut of emotions with men.

God is seen as continually active in a creative way, constantly working in the world to offer men the opportunity to fulfill their obligations toward Him and toward fellow men.

The material world is considered on the whole "very Good", Gn 1,31, and man has a unique responsibility to order it according to God's purpose.

The great responsibility of man as well as his frailty and wickedness are emphasized. The distinguishing mark of humans is their ability to make ethical choices.

One's eternal existence in the hereafter is determined by moral behavior and attitudes.

The notion of individual salvation and heavenly existence is not prominent in Judaism.

The notion of an afterlife is not well developed in the Old Testament.

Jews still hope for the coming of the Messiah, who will hand out eternal judgment and reward to all. This hope is largely communal; the entire Jewish race and the whole of creation is in view more than individual men.

"Torah" ("to point the way, give direction"), often translated "law", refers in Judaism to the total pattern of behavior, applicable to all aspect of communal and individual life.

As can be seen in the Ten Commandments, much of Jewish morality is related primarily to the good of the community. The Jewish prophets were the first strong proponents of social justice in the ancient world.

Marriage and children are held in high regard by Judaism.

Ritual and ceremony are still important within Judaism. The purpose is to hallow all life, to share one's life with God.

The Jews have a full calendar of daily, weekly and yearly celebration.

A major part of such celebrations is the remembrance of sacred history.

  1. Non-Christian sects (further information)

Mormons

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA - is one of the fastest growing non-Christian religion of the world.

A prophet can only be inspired by God or by satan. For us Christians the Bible IS the divine inspired Word of God, and because God does not contradict Himself, anything written (or said) has to essentially agree with the Holy Bible. We will now examine this religion (cult) in the light of the Bible.

Basic to any study of a cult (religion) is the doctrine of God. The "God" that the Mormons worship is just one of the thousands of gods they conceive to be in the universe. Every male Mormon believes that he too may reach "exaltation" (but not women) and become a god by following the Mormon plan of salvation. The prophet of the Mormons, Joseph Smith, taught: "God himself was once as we are now and is an exalted man..." (Journal of Discourse, Vol. VI, p.3). Smith also taught that God has thousands of wives with Him in heaven for his own passion and pleasure. Marriages performed in a Mormon temple are for eternity, it continues after death: The `god-male' will keep his not so `godfemales.' Mormons practice polygamy, that is, a man can have more than one wife at the same time.

The doctrine of Christ is a second essential Christian teaching. The Jesus the Mormons preach about is quite different from the Jesus of the Bible. The Mormons teach that God, who has a physical body, engaged in a physical relationship with Mary and that resulted in the birth of Jesus. They also teach that some sins are beyond the atoning Blood of Christ and can be atoned for only by the death of the person committing the sin. Compare the teaching of the Bible: "...the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from ALL sin", 1 Jn 1,7.

One of the key areas in dealing with Mormons is the Mormon doctrine of Scripture - The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price and the Bible. The Mormons assert that all four books are equally inspired by God. However, upon examination of the Mormon Articles of Faith, we read: "We believe the Bible to be the word of God in so far as it is translated correctly" (Article 8). The Mormons accept out of the Bible only what is compatible with the Book of Mormons, the rest they declare to be not of God. We therefore must conclude that Mormons elevate the other three books above the Bible.

The claim that the Bible is, at least partially incorrectly translated is demonstrably false. For instance, the Dead Sea Scrolls confirm that the Old Testament has remained virtually unchanged since approximately one hundred years before Christ. We also have several substantial partial manuscripts of the Greek New Testament that pre-date the organized Catholic Church.

God does not contradict Himself: Comparing the Book of Mormons of 1830 (first edition) and the 1968 reprint, we observe that Mormon leaders have changed, added to and removed passages to avoid contradictions and support new doctrines. If these books are God's Word, who has the right to alter them?

The Book of Mormon was translated by Joseph Smith from golden plates which he claimed to receive from the angel Moroni. Asking about these `golden plates' we are told that they have disappeared.

2. Jehovah's Witnesses

These sincere people are concerned about others and sharing with others what they believe to be the truth.

This sect (cult) is connected to the name Charles T. Russel. At first a Congregationalist, soon joined one of the splinter-groups of the Adventists. This group was known for the continual exact timing of the end of the world - to mention a few dates only, 1872, 1914, 1925, etc. Russel died in 1916, his successor was Rutherford.

The main publication of this organization is The Watch Tower. In 1919 Rutherford organized the first Congress of the sect. The theology of this sect (if we can speak of such a thing) is rather Old Testamently - Jehovah - oriented.

Rutherford organized a world wide publicity (propaganda) campaign through which their (his) views were spread (The Watch Tower).

Rutherford died in 1942; his successor was Nathan H. Knorr. The last two known world's end prophecy were in 1966 and in 1975.

They have their own Bible translation which is a conscious adoption to and an arbitrary twisting to their "Watch-Tower" understanding of the Scripture - we are not facing a conscientious translation but rather a sect-teaching-inflexion into the Bible.

The name Jehovah: Out of respect the Jews did not speak out the name of God, they indicated His name with JHVH in their writings. Every Jews know that this meant God. Christ, the ambassador of God, brought His new Name, that is, Abba, Dear Father.

Much of their concern for world events, trends and conditions is shared by true Christians. Many people find themselves agreeing with the door-step discussions on world conditions and become involved. Following the initial contact, at which something is left to be read and thought about, there comes the follow-up visit..!

Door-to-door visitation works. There is always someone lonely or waiting to talk to anybody who will call.

Jehovah's Witness Theology:

The way JW can quote verses from the Bible sounds most impressive but in actual fact most of the quotes are out of context and often misinterpreted or misapplied. A classic example is the translation of John 1,1: "...and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god".

Most of the doctrines that make this group a counterfeit cult is in fact related to their misapplication and misinterpretation of Scripture.

The JW deny the doctrine of the Trinity. They do not accept Jesus as the Christ, the unique Son of God who was both human and divine, both God and man. They deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ and see Him as a created being, i.e. Michael the Archangel. Bible texts which indicate Christ's divinity are ignored or are given a new interpretation.

The Holy Spirit is nothing but a rational power. The Jehovah's Witnesses are anti-Trinitarians. What is then the central teaching of this cult? It is not a living relationship to God but rather the promise of a reward, that is, a paradise-like future for the faithful members.

Only faithful Jehovah's Witnesses will be saved at the End of the Age.

Be aware of what you "buy" when you open your door to JW and accept what they "sell". These

door-knocking people may be good people but their "product", their faith, is NOT the Christianity of the Bible. Love them for Christ sake and pray for them.

3. Adventists

The first great renewal started in 1734, followed by a second revival in 1799; the third started in 1839 (William Miller).

The movement soon disassociated itself from other churches.

One of the decisive developments in this sect was the introduction of the Sabbath-worship, through which they clearly separate the "true believers from" the "false ones" (worshiping on Sunday).

All the activities of the Adventists are considered as missionary work - therefore every establishment of this sect aims to convert the "unbeliever" to become a member of the sect.

The doctrines of this group and the theology they developed is a definite return to the Old Testament - the New Testament concept "Father" gave way to the Old Testament authoritarian "reckoning God"; Sunday worship was exchanged for the Sabbath; the constant expectation of the end-time is coupled with the exact prediction of the same, based on the different statements of Daniel.

4. Liberation Theology

Liberation theology is an attempt to forge a marriage between Marxism and Christian faith.

Karl Marx - the father of Marxism:

Today Marxism is sweeping the world (in-spite of the visible collapsing of the Communist system) with unprecedented vigor. No longer just a threat in the Third World, it is gaining increased acceptance in Capitalist countries. There are so called Christians, clergymen in high standing, who believe that Marx has the right answers about how to help the hungry, the destitute and oppressed.

Who was the father of Marxism?

In his early youth, Karl Marx (+1883) professed to be a Christian. Shortly after Marx graduated from high school he became passionately anty-religious. He wrote in a poem of that period: "I wish to avenge myself against the One who rules above".

In an other poem: "Then I will be able to walk triumphantly,

Like a god...

Every word of mine is fire...

My breast is equal to that of the Creator".

In the poem "The Player" he wrote:

"The hellish vapors rise

and fill the brain,

Till I go mad and my heart is

utterly changed.

See this sword?

The prince of darkness

Sold it to me".

In the rites of higher initiation in the satanist cult, an "enchanted" sword which ensures success is sold or given to the candidate. He pays for it by signing a covenant with blood taken from his wrists, agreeing that his soul will belong to satan after his death. The ideals cultivated in the initiation rites of the satanist church are expressed in Marx's drama "Oulanem".

Marx was a satanist. He formulated as his aim a "permanent revolution", terrorism and bloodshed for revolution's sake. Violence to the point of paroxyms is the only objective. Marx pledged to establish a work which will bring the world to ruin, to build himself a "throne" (compare Is 14,12f), whose bulwark would be human fear...truly a satanic concept.

There is no support for the view that Marx entertained lofty social ideas about helping mankind. Quite the contrary - his whole attitude and relationships were satanic in nature.

Marxism is not an ordinary sinful human ideology. It is satanic in its manner of sinning, as it is satanic in the teachings it purveys.

According to Marx, a demon was the author of the Communist revolution and was his personal friend. Communism is collective demon possession. See his Philosophic essays.

Marxism is a new religion and its ultimate aim in conquering the world is not to establish another social or economic system - it is to mock God and praise satan.

Liberation Theology is a modern-day anti-Christian heresy:

- Destruction of the authority of Scripture - LT sees the Bible as just another human book.

- Marxism swallows up the Gospel - Marxism forms the very core of LT; it is the key for rightly interpreting the Bible..."Marxism is the unavoidable historical mediation of Christian obedience".

- New universalism - LT teaches that all will be saved; it denies the Christian doctrine of heaven, hell, judgment and resurrection.

- Elimination of evangelism - since they believe that all will be saved, they see evangelism as a vast of time.

- Marxist world view will be propagated - not repentance but rebellion; Love? "It is terrible to have to kill for the sake of love; but it will prove to be necessary".

Religion has traditionally presented the major obstacle for Marxists-Communists. Liberation Theology thus aids Marxism by removing that opposition. Marxists use LT as an anesthetic while they remove the patient's Christianity.

VII. Christian Sects (further information)

Introduction

Sects are communities which have separated themselves from a larger religious body. Generally they reject (or change) only a few of the more or less important teachings of the religious community (church) from which they originated. This difference will be strongly emphasized.

One of the most characteristic signs is that they have only a part of the whole revealed truth; the totality as far as it exists has been lost. One of the roots of evil here rests in individualism - according to this philosophy everyone can be his own judge about everything and everyone (in the name of the Lord of course!). The religious individualist is a self-appointed leader, preserver and teacher of biblical truths - according to his own opinion, of course.

Since the world entered the Church (see "The Witness of the Times") the spirit of individualism disrupted the unity of the Church. One cannot see unity at all, but a lot of sects fighting with one another, contradicting each other and claiming their unity through the Holy Bible as a measure of truth. How incorrect their claim is, is proved by the fact that every one of them appeals to the Bible to prove their very often contradicting beliefs. Individualism was hidden behind "searching" for the "truth" and the "lost values" of the church. The spirit of individualism soon led (leads) to further

splits, extreme views, isolation and exaggeration of the re-discovered truth. The usual enthusiasm at the beginning soon gives away to bickering and further divisions.

It is true that Scripture is the corrective for beliefs and morals of the Church, but it can not be interpreted freely according to one's own discretion.

Before we examine the different sects we have to ask a few vital questions:

Separation from what?

The above given statements are simplified, for deeper understanding, read "The Witness of the Times" - The churches; Only one true "apostolic" Church.

Why separation? The above mentioned book will also answer this important question.

The result of these separations? - is without any exception further chaos - they are a work of man (ultimately satan's) and not the work of the Spirit.

Before dealing with this subject we should examine and define the True Church of Jesus the Christ - this subject is also dealt with in the above mentioned book.

The different sects

Here again we can mention only a few selected groups. For further information a Christian should turn to his spiritual counselor.

We will restrict ourselves to the most essential ideas in every case.

A Group

1. Darbysten

The founder: J.N. Darby (1800 -1882) was a priest of the Anglican Church.

The alleged reasons for going on his individual way (often these searchings were on the conscious level honest and the Holy Spirit used it, at least from time to time, to re-surface a lost truth): Looking for the "Spirit-church", the pure and unadulterated church of the truth, where the Spirit can work freely without the "interference" of any hierarchy. The initial enthusiastic beginning (without any church-office) soon led to isolation, extreme views and further splitting -up to "Open Brothers" and "Closed Brothers".

2. The Community of Evangelical Baptists

The founder: Samuel Heinrich Froelich (19th cent.)

He declared himself the "Gatherer of the Children of God". Conditions for his followers were: Repentance, conversion, born-again, adult-baptism, acceptance of Christ. Individualistic literal interpretation of the Bible. The sect soon split into two directions - a more- and a less conservative group.

3. The Congregation of God

The founder: Daniel S. Warner (started his movement in 1881).

He gathered all "committed Christians"; rejected all forms of organization. He was seeking to re-erect the Original Church. Believed on the return of Christ.

4. The Congregation of Christ

Originated in America (1850) and rejected every church-tradition. The motto was: What is not in the Bible, is unbiblical - for instance, they rejected the use of the organ because it is not mentioned in the

NT. They also rejected any "super" church-offices; although they kept the office of elders and other officials, elected from within their own ranks. The basic "cry" was Truth and nothing but the Truth!

5. Evangelical Union of Brothers

The founder: Fritz Berger (1902).

After he experienced his personal conversion, he founded the above mentioned sect. The "born again" experience was The thing and they rejected baptism in water. The born again Christian is holy, free from all sins and perfect - the over-flowing grace of Christ makes every prayer for the forgiving of sins superfluous. This sect split also in 1967/68.

6. The Church of the Nazarene

The Founder - a former Methodist minister Phineas F. Bresee (1838-1915). The church was founded in 1908.

At the center is again the "born again" experience, which leads to a total devotion to God in holy obedience. Perfect love will be effected by baptism in the Holy Spirit.

  1. The Philadelphia Movement

The founder: Christian Roeckle (+ 1945).

He founded this movement upon a so called "revelation" and a conversion experience. His main aim was to prepare his followers for the return of Christ.

The movement had three parts:

- Philadelphia-association - the juristic organization of the movement.

- Philadelphia-message: In connection to the Three parts of the Jewish Temple, there were "vestibule Christians" (without lasting conversion); "members of the sanctuary" (born-again Christians) and "Christians of the Holy of Hollies" (Philadelphia-congregation) characterized by the expectation of the return of Christ - for that members should prepare themselves through a sinless life, striving for the gifts of the Spirit, being ready for martyrdom, etc.

- Philadelphia-movement - lose associates of the sect.

The movement does not necessarily expect the "members" to leave their own church (sect), although they maintain their own organization.

8. Congregation of Christians, Ecclesia

The Founder: Hermann Zaiss (+1958)

Through his healing-gift and activities he had many followers. He did not require members to leave their own church. The requirements were: Repentance, conversion, "born-again". He advocated the return of Christ. Every "born-again" Christian, independent from their denominational grouping were members of the Body of Christ.

9. The Congregation of Emma Berger

The Founder: Emma Berger, a Swiss female deacon in "Bethesda", Wuppertal.

She and the other "sisters" had a Pentecostal experience - tongues, prophesy, etc. She herself having been healed received the gift of healing. Since 57/58 she was given a house and since we can speak of a community. They "left" the churches - "Go out of Babylon", Is 48,20. They closely observe the happenings in Israel.

The common problem of sects (movements) and so called churches is that the Christ-given fundament is (was) missing, that is the Apostle Office, see The "Witness of the Times". The elimination of this Christ-founded fundament had the consequence (among other things) that the basic teaching of the Bible was distorted and lost: For example, "One Lord, one faith, one baptism" Eph 4,5 – is nowhere to be seen.

B/C Group - Mission and Evangelization

The difference between mission and evangelization: Mission is an offer of the Gospel of Jesus the Christ to non-believers; evangelization is a call to revival for man who is estranged from Christendom.

The beginning of large scale evangelization started in 1739 by George Whitefield (1714-1770).

An other way of modern large scale evangelization is the so called "healing-evangelization".

The popular radio and television evangelization is also to be mentioned.

There are many problems with these proclamations one of the greatest of them is the lack of Christian community - the Church, the community of the saints, the Apostle-guidance, etc.

B. The following are some of the well known mission-works:

Common to all these works is a striving for commitment, conversion and an expectation for quick and lasting mass result.

There are illusions and false teachings, like "God will solve all your problems"; a continual mass-hypnosis and a pressuring of the audience.

Most of the time there is no connection between conversion and commitment within a visible Christian congregation - it often leads to a "private-Christianity".

1. Mission-work of Werner Henkelbach (1898-1968)

He experienced his conversion in 1934. Because of his heart-condition he had to give up his evangelization-organizations and turned to radio-evangelization.

2. Mission-work of "Midnight-call"

Founded by the Dutch Baptist Wim Malgo (1955).

He started with radio-evangelization. He also sent missionaries to South America.

His teaching:

At the beginning he followed the same requirements as the previously mentioned sects.

Later he developed his own interpretation of the Bible, based on his own speculation - his own interpretation of the future.

3. World-wide Church of God

Founded by Herbert W. Armstrong (1934) propagating the "truth" by a magazine "Clear and True".

This evangelization is very much like a church organization, having their weekly gathering on the Sabbath. They have their own school for educating their own preachers - spiritual counseling and adult baptism.

Constant expectation of the return of Christ - at first in 1972, then 1977...

He believes himself to be the modern John the Baptist and "discovered" the lost Ten Tribes of Israel which are: The Americans, Britons, New Zealanders, S. Africans, etc.

C. Healing-evangelization

This activity was greatly increased in the 60's and 70's of our century. The proceedings are usually the same - large arena for proclamation, huge masses, the speaker is announced as the man of God with healing powers.

Some of the well known names: William Branham; Tony Osborn; Yonggi Cho, (S. Korea), Herman Zaiss.

Harmann Zaiss felt in 1944 a call to evangelize without any church affiliation.

William Branhams received a number of angel's visitations. The most important one in 1946, in which he was promised extraordinary healing powers.

At the end of his life he believed he received the task of "the anointed one of the end time", Zech 4,14. According to his message the "Laodicea-time" (Rev 3,14f) ended in 1977. After his death, his followers expected his resurrection...

Tommy Osborn believed he was directly called by Jesus. His financial success is phenomenal - "Who pays, closes a covenant with God!".

Common to all these healing-evangelists is that they often misinterpret the Bible concerning illness and maintain that "He heals all your diseases" Ps 103,3 - obviously not accepting that God is free in distributing His grace.

The prayer for recovery will be overemphasized and medical help underestimated.

D. The Pentecostal experience

a. Introduction

In general:

There are many substantial differences in the teachings of the different Pentecostal Churches - there are also similarities:

- Fundamentalism - "verbal-inspiration"

- Bible will often be quoted out of context

- The baptism of infants will be refused

- The baptism will be preceded by repentance, commitment to Jesus

- The "born again" experience

- Believing in the end-time and the returning of Christ.

Tongues:

This spiritual gift is strongly emphasized. It is to be found in 1 Cor 12,10. It soon disappeared (with other gifts) in the official church. It emerged again in the 17th century (Huguenots and Jansenists).

The baptism in the Spirit:

It is an essential part of being a "Pentecostal". The actual filling with the Holy Spirit is accompanied by different visible "signs" (see Acts 2,2f).

This "filling with the Holy Spirit" soon became in all of the so called established churches an empty ceremony.

The official Pentecostal movement sees the praying in tongues as a visible sign of the filling with the Spirit - an over-emphasize of this gift occurred.

The fruits of the Spirit among which is love stand on the peak in the teaching of the Bible (see 1 Cor 13; Gal 5,22f) - will be pushed into the background.

Pentecostal understanding of the church:

The church is the gathering of God's "born again" (Jn 3,3) people - a remnant in the world but not of the world (Jn 15,19;17,16). This concept, up to this point, is correct but most of the Pentecostal "churches" reject a hierarchy (which could lead them on the path of biblical development).

The Pentecostal movement is end-time oriented. Like all other sects, they claim to preach the whole truth - in fact they proclaim a fragmented message. The Pentecostals could also not escape the individualism and subjectivity of other "church-movements" since the disappearance of the Apostles, see "The Witness of the Times".

The emotionalism of this movement is coupled with an enthusiastic recruiting for Jesus - or better still to say, for their own way of piety.

In Particular:

a. The Pentecostal movement started with John Wesley (1703-1791), the founder of the Methodist-church. In the middle of the 19th century, others followed - Charles Finney, Asa Mahan, W.E. Boardman, etc. The modest beginning received a strong stimulus (lift) in 1901 when a group of "searching Christians" got together and "researched" the Bible concluding that the speaking in tongues is the proof of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. According to this "school" the speaking in tongues is the only certain sign for Spirit-baptism, it gives the believer the certainty of being saved and of course, elevates him above all who have not acquired this experience. The movement spread all over the world.

Looking at the development of this movement and the present state of it we can conclude that, generally speaking, this movement, in some aspect, re-opened, re-discovered a dimension of Christianity which was lost during the centuries in the world-adjusted churches.

In-spite of all the one-sidedness, in some of the movements, inspired by the Spirit, are components leading up to the final gathering of the End-Time Church - the preparation for the return of Christ has begun.

It is important to realize that besides the Holy Spirit there is an evil spirit also; there are not just signs and wonders of the Spirit but also signs and wonders of the devil. There are many genuine Spirit filled Christians but there are also many who have not the right spirit.

The different groups and developments of the Pentecostal movement:

The first European Pentecostal conference in 1908.

The "Committed Christians of (Folks)-mission", founded in 1934.

The "Apostolic Church" sprang up directly from the "Wales-renewal" (1908).

The "Congregation of Original Christians" is connected to Drollinger in the 1920th.

In the sixties the so called "charismatic renewal" (pentecostal experience) shook up the main churches - a wide spread renewal of the established churches began.

In the seventies and eighties this movement led to a world wide polarization of committed and non-committed believers.

Another group of Pentecostal off shoot is the so called "Apostle-congregations"

b. The Catholic-Apostolic Church

Towards the middle of the 19th century a visible pouring out of the Holy Spirit occurred in England. The signs led many to believe that the end-time was at hand. The church in discussion is connected to the name of Edward Irving. He was led to the recognition of the importance of the Twelve Apostle. Studying the liturgy of the different churches he developed a rather Orthodox-Church type worship.

The gathering of the apostles began*. The first official and public activity of this group started in 1847. * Irving gathered the apostles.

The most important step here is the re-institution of the original church-order, see Eph 4,11f. Here the Holy Spirit took a vital step toward the re-establishment of the End-Time Church, see "The Witness of the Times".

We consider every re-discovery of a lost truth as a step of the Spirit toward the above mentioned re-establishment and in final analysis toward the preparation for the Return of the Christ.

The problem of this church was that they could not see their real role, that is, being the tool, the preparer of THE End-Time Church - rather they considered themselves as the one.

In 1901, the last "apostle" of this church died. Unfortunately, as in many churches, this caused a split.

c. The New Apostolic-Church

In 1860 Heinrich Geyer "ordained" two new apostles, see "The Witness of the Times". The founding of a new church in Hamburg began. This new move opened the door for the split.

At this point we have to mention an important false development which definitely contributed to the downfall of these two movements: We see in both churches (especially in the New Apostolic Church) the gradual disappearance of the office of the prophet. The task of the prophet is, as a chosen vessel of God, to proclaim His will. As we compare the development of the Original Church and the Catholic-Apostolic Church we must observe that in both cases the activities of the prophets were suppressed; their activities sank into insignificance and finally disappeared - the voice of the Spirit was silenced. It is an important lesson for the End-Time Church that Christ did not give His Church one office, that is, the Office of the Apostle, but four, see Eph 4,11f.

d. The so called "Apocalyptic" congregation:

All Pentecostal churches believe- and are end-time oriented. The following congregation is to be mentioned separately because of its extreme views on this subject. The central message of this community is "End-Time" and by over emphasizing this, no doubt biblical message, it averts the view of its followers from the basic message of the Gospel, that is, love. The general climate of this group is not trust but fear.

VIII. A meditation on the Bible (some examples)

Before you start to mediate on the following Scripture-thoughts, read the relevant chapter on meditation in the book Church of Christ – People of God under way.

1.

The God of comfort

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flows over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows", 2 Cor 1,3f.

The "God of all comfort" is one of the most reassuring names of God.

The outward life of the followers of God might be full of discomfort, but their inward life is a comforted one.

The ways God comforts us:

By His presence with us, see Jn 14,16f.

Through His Body, the Church - He gives us each other, Col 3,12f.

"I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children you will never see the kingdom of heaven", Mt 18,3.

Think about the trust, dependence of a child in its parents - its need for love, discipline and for comfort, communication, closeness and encouragement from the parents. Compare Is 66,13.

"Be holy, because I am holy", Lev 11,45.

It is impossible for us to know anything about holiness, unless we go to the source of all holiness - God revealed Himself to us in Jesus Christ, Jn 14,6f.

Let us look at Jesus Christ:

- Jesus is righteous, Hebr 4,15

- Jesus was full of compassion, love and mercy, 1 Jn 3,16f;4,9f

- He has fully submitted to His Father's will, Mt 26,39; Jn 5,30.

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and prove what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will", Rom 12,2.

- Mental images are often imprinted on the mind through watching, reading, etc.

- Thoughts are influencing our actions...

- We put ourselves in the center...

-Paul speaks of the great struggle that occurs between the flesh and the spirit, see Rom 7,7f.19f

- The enemy tries to control our thoughts...

- Romans 8 shows us the way to bring peace and confidence into our minds.

"I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life", Jn 8,12.

Compare Jn 3,16-21.

"Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave", Mt 20,26.

Compare Lk 17,7f.

"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble", Jas 4,6(f).

2.

The Way of the Cross - a devotion

First station - Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Mt 26,36f (38)

Second station - Jesus is condemned to death, Lk 23,21f

Third station - Jesus is made to carry His cross, Jn 19,17

Fourth station - Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry the cross, Mk 15,21

Fifth station - Jesus speaks to the women of Jerusalem. Lk 23,28f

Sixth station - Jesus is stripped of His garments, Jn 19,23f

Seventh station - Jesus is nailed to the cross, Lk 23,33

Eight station - "Woman, behold your son...behold your mother", Jn 19,26f

Ninth station - Jesus dies on the cross, Mt 27,50

Tenth station - Jesus is taken down from the cross, Mk 15,46

Eleventh station - Jesus is laid in the tomb, Mt 27,57f

Twelfth station - The resurrection of Jesus, Mk 16,1f

3.

The Holy Trinity - a special view

This contemplation is based on the interpretation of the Icon of Andrej Rublev

Introduction

How can we represent our faith? It happens through different ways and manners according to the gifts (charisma) of the individual. Our faith - which gains "form" through our life, may also be expressed through artistic means, for instance, the spoken and written word.

It is good that we try to express our faith. But what ever we do, our expression remains inadequate if we try to give utterance to the incomprehensible mysteries of God.

What we have and can grasp is the Word of Holy Scripture; it gives evidence of God. It reveals God as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. God operates in our world on these three-fold-ways.

The endeavor of many artists was often to represent the essence and working of the Holy Trinity. Theologians try through speech and writing, painters with brush and color. One of these works of art is the Trinity-Icon of Rublev.

Icons are specially known in the Eastern Church. This Church keeps strictly to the Mosaic Law. It prohibits the use of God's image. In the Orthodox Church one may represent God only as He revealed Himself in human form. Because of this the main accent of Icon-painters is in the representation of the incarnate Son: "The Word became flesh", Jn 1,14.

What is important in an Icon? Not so much the wood or the colors but rather the essence of the represented characters. Actually, we are all "Icons" because we are created after "God's image" - we bear godly characteristics, Gn 1,27; 2 Cor 3,18.

Icons are not worshipped - we honor them because they represent characteristics of God. Their testimony is deep and inexhaustible. They are like a revelation which can be verified by the Word of God. One cannot make the invisible visible. Yet, art may be a bridge to the incomprehensible.

The painting of an Icon is an art which is executed while praying. The Icon painter paints what he has "seen" or experienced while praying.

This icon has a series of slides for home-bible study

We will not find among the Icons a more powerful theological expression, a greater artistic beauty and wealth of symbolism than we find in the Trinity-Icon of Rublev. The Icon originates in 1400 A.D. in Russia. This was a very insecure and turbulent time, a time of wars and destruction. The Christians perceived the love of the Holy Trinity and received courage and inner peace which enabled them to keep their unity.

This Icon conveys a deep expression of how God loves the world and what kind of sacrifice He made in order to save it, Jn 3,16.

It is One God, the Father and Creator of the world, who loved us unto death in Jesus Christ and who opens our hearts through the Holy Spirit to enable us to love Him. There are not three God's, but only ONE - Who embraces the world from its beginning, Who preserves it and saves it. We humble ourselves before this inscrutable mystery which we are permitted to love and adore in the Holy Trinity - the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

The One God is praised in acknowledgment of the eternal unique, distinction of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Yet, it is a "for-each-other", an "in-each-other", a mutual "penetration" and eternal communion.

All our thoughts and contemplation of the mystery of the Holy Trinity will remain imperfect. Our comprehension and speech, our resources are not sufficient to express the essence of God. Icons can only indicate the incomprehensible and try to make it more understandable.

The following meditation can be  accompanied by slides, detailing the Icon.

Picture 1

The sacred world of the Icons! Among which is the greatest, the most profound and the most masterly, the Icon by Rublev of the Holy Trinity.

Picture 2

Who ever looks at an Icon, looks at Christ.

As Jesus was transfigured on the Mountain, "his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as the light", Mt 17,2, - His human-nature became transparent to reveal His divine reality. In a certain way the whole world is a transparency of the divine reality. It is an image of Christ, who is the image of the invisible God, Col 1,15. The task of an Icon-painter is to paint his picture in such a way that this divine reality becomes visible. In this way by the contemplation of an Icon we encounter God.

Rublev also tries to picture his encounter with God and lets us participate in it. He uses the language of colors, forms and symbols. We will now "listen" to the "speech" without words, the speech of the brush.

Picture 3

The picture is ruled by triangle, circle and rectangle. Through the vertical center axis of the table the position of the Angel is fixed in the center. In a similar way the positions of the other Angels are fixed through the diagonals. They are touching the diagonals with their heads but without crossing over it.

The intersections of the diagonals is the center from where one can draw a circle. The circle encloses the three Angels. The circle is a symbol of the essence of the unity, the eternity and the image of God. We find this symbol in the triangle also. It is an ancient Christian symbol. The contour of the upper-part of the body of the Angel in the center joins the triangle. The

upper edge of the table is the base-line of this triangle and at the end of it are the two other Angels.

The picture receives through the triangle order, solidity and peace; through the circle unity and oneness. Yet the picture does not look rigid, for instance, the head of the center Angel diverges from

the center line to the left, the chalice on the table is moved to the right of the center line - in this way the balance is established; because of this, the picture has life and movement.

Picture 4

The Angel at the center inclines towards the Angel to the left. This movement is emphasized by the tree in the background, inclined to the left. We see a similar inclining to the left of the Angel at the right hand side of the painting; the movement of the hill above Him shows the same motion. Rublev succeeded through this movement to the left to give the three Persons a quickening, yet unity. The three Angels portray not just a unity which is shown through the external circle but a summary unity also: their unity is much more the result of an internal movement, an inclination, in which the Angel in the center and the Angle at the right side to the Angle on the left devoted to. The posture of the Angel at the left is upright. This is underlined by the building above Him, having the same bearing.

Picture 5

The movement mentioned earlier goes out from the head of the Angel at the right through the head of the center Angel to the Person on the left and completes the circle. A similar movement of the tree and hill also underline this motion. This movement from the right to the left has a parallel motion in the opposite direction: The inclination of the pilgrim-staff's of the three Angels shows such movement. The same motion is to be observed on the table: The right arm and fingers of the Angel on the left shows a blessing, pointing to the right, and the Angel at the center leads us also in this direction.

Picture 6

Un-obtrusive and yet plainly visible, the chalice stands on the table in the middle of this circle. The free space between the knee of the two outer Angels repeats the simple form of the chalice; the same is repeated again in the space between the two foot-stools. The importance of this one chalice is obvious - its form is repeated three times. The chalice is a hint of the Eucharistic sacrifice in the Holy Liturgy.

We can observe an opening on the front side of the table. The altars of the Orthodox Churches have such an opening for relics. Every Eucharistic Sacrifice will be celebrated upon the bones of martyrs.

Picture 7

The colors of the Icon:

How do they help us to a deeper understanding of the picture? The blue, the color of divinity and heavenly truth, is distributed in different shades by the three Angels: The blue color on the wings is very tender; the center Angel has a very powerful blue on His outer garment; while the other Angels have

blue under garments. The garment of the Angel at the right shows a richer blue than that of the Angel on the left.

The high light of color in this Icon is reached in the dark red color of the under garment of the center Angel.

Picture 8

Here we compare the peculiarity of Rublev's colors with Feofan Grek's way of painting. He was a contemporary Icon painter. Grek preferred dark colors and so his paintings are in contrast to Rublev. Rublev's color-scheme is much more harmoniously equalized - they are brighter, cheerful, yet not obtrusive.

Picture 9

The figures of Feofan Grek's are majestic and at the same time stern and demanding respect.

Picture 10

Rublev's forms are softer, his faces more human and full of feeling. They testify to peace, gentleness and compassion, yet give the impression of pensive sadness also. Feofan Grek figures stands alone, each isolated from each other.

Picture 11

In Rublev's art each figure is related to the other; it lives and sacrifices itself for the others.

Picture 12

The Greek painters show in their Icons the difficulties of Christian asceticism. Rublev shows its fruit which however can only grow out of sacrifice and self-sacrifice.

In this picture Feofan appears as one who struggles for the Yes to the will of God. Rublev shows that his Yes was not easy but he has already given it and now he lives only for God.

Picture 13

Now we will try to penetrate the theological meaning of the Icon.

This Icon of Rublev shows us a scene out of the Old Testament - the encounter of Abraham with the Angels, Gn 18. Abraham received in these three Angels God Himself. The Orthodox Church calls that type of Icon, Philoxenie, which means hospitality. For the people in the Orient hospitality was more than simply giving a meal or shelter to a stranger. Hospitality is an "Agape", a form of friendship, a means of showing love and care for ones neighbor.

Picture 14

The theme of Rublev's Icon is not confined only to the story of Abraham. In the three Visitors he sees the Holy Trinity. That is the reason for the decisive circle- and triangle composition, a reference to the eternal God and Trinity. The three halos around the heads of the Angels shine like three suns. They are symbolic of the Trinity, who are in three Persons yet one incomprehensible light.

The youthful faces of the Angels too - none of them looks younger than the other, show that in the Holy Trinity there is no later, no earlier, no yesterday, no tomorrow but a timeless eternity.

In the youthful postures are united the strength and grace of both sexes, because in God all these are united, Col 3,11. In Him the differences are not extinguished, rather united, fulfilled and complemented.

Picture 15

The three visitors are seated at the table. On that table is the one chalice, the one common "meal" - symbol of the single divine nature. The gold of their wings, the blue color of the clothing which is common to all Three, also refer to the divine nature.

All three Angels are holding a pilgrim-rod. This shows that God is not a selfish God (who isolates Himself). He has gone and continues to go on His way in His creation which needs salvation and His divine presence. In-spite of all likenesses however, the personal behavior of all three Angels show differences to each other.

Picture 16

The left Angel, in whom we may symbolically "see" the Father, is sitting almost upright on His throne. The building, erected above His head and His pilgrim-rod, which He is holding almost upright underline His posture.

His glance, the gesture of His right hand seem to give a short yet clear command.

His upper garment adorned with gold and pink, the highest ranking colors, display in Him the origin, the source of the Divinity and therefore the origin of life.

Picture 17

We see just a small stripe of His blue under garment - He is the Father and He "is dwelling in unapproachable light. No man has ever seen or could see him", 1 Tim 6,16. It was always difficult for Christian art to represent the Father. He showed Himself to us only through His Son Jesus. Because of this, when the Byzantine artists wanted to paint Father-God, they painted Christ as the Pantocrat (ruler above all) - Christ "is the image of the invisible God", Col 1,15.

Picture 18

The Apostles asked Jesus to show them the Father. He replied: "Who ever sees me, has seen the Father", Jn 14,9. Rublev also shows, in his way, that the Father is invisible and inaccessible - in the under garment of the Angel at the left only a small stripe of blue is visible.

Picture 19

The Angel in the center represents the Son. He is the Word of the eternal Father, who gives us life, light and truth.

The Son, who, as the Word, goes out of the Father, turns to Him listening and answering Him at the same time. He obeys!

His blood-red upper garment shows us His great love in which Christ became obedient even unto death, Phil 2,8. His outer garment is the only blue one: That color, which represents the divine nature, is shown here in full: In Christ God has revealed Himself - in Him God became visible to us. He is the Way and the only access (gate) to the Father.

Picture 20

The tree behind Him represents the "Tree of Life", connecting Christ to the tree in Paradise and the wood of the Cross.

Picture 21

Jesus is in the center of all creation, Col 1,16 - for the human race and for every human being.

He bows His head to the Father and bends His knees. His arm and His fingers open in the manner of blessing, point on towards the Holy Spirit.

Picture 22

The Holy Spirit shows in His entire attitude an unreserved devotion, a complete willingness and boundless love. His facial expression shows us the Counselor - He comforts us.

Picture 23

In His upper garment beside the blue color of the divinity we discover the color green: This shows us the Spirit of God, who, through His divine activity animates an re-creates the entire universe.

Picture 24

Rublev shows us not only the personal originality of the Three Persons of the Trinity - he indicates their inner relationship as well which determine the inner life of God. To illustrate this he uses the movements in the Icon.

Picture 25

The origin of everything, including the "movements" within the Trinity is the Father: It goes out of the lap of the Father, through the Son and to the Holy Spirit - and then it returns to the Father through the inclination of the heads. It is the path of divine love which originates in the Father, overflows to the Son and through Him flows on and across, as the love of the Father and the Son, to the Holy Spirit and then it returns to the Father. It is a never ending perfect "circular" movement.

Picture 26

The movement seems to rest in the Holy Spirit. That is the reason why His right hand lies closed on the table.

Picture 27

The motion which starts with the Father and comes to rest in the Holy Spirit is answered through the Holy Spirit by a love of thanks and praise - movement of the heads.

Picture 28

It is out of the great love of the Father that the essence of the Son and the Spirit has its Personal-being. This movement of love leaves the Inner-divinesphere - it takes the whole of creation into this motion of gratitude and devotion.

Picture 29

The tree and hill in the background - a picture of inanimate nature. They also take part in this movement.

Picture 30

The breath of the Holy Pneuma carries everything and everyone (who is willing to be carried) through Christ into the open House of the Father.

Picture 31

In the center of the Altar stands the chalice. In it we see the head of a sacrificial animal. According to the Old Testament it was the expiation sacrifice. In the New Testament, Christ takes its place and makes atonement for our sins once and for all.

This happened according to the eternal decree of the Holy Trinity.

Picture 32

Only one of the Three Persons became man. Yet our redemption was decided in an eternal dialogue within the Holy Trinity. Every one of the Three Persons was taking part in it in their own very personal way.

The Icon of Rublev shows us this eternal dialogue between the Three Persons of the Trinity.

Picture 33

As every being and doing (creation) has its origin in the Father so too, the decision of redemption. He doesn't want to leave the human race in the darkness of sin, far off from Him, but He wishes to bring them home, to Himself, into the Father's House - through the redemptive sacrifice of His Son.

Picture 34

Restrained but clear and decisive is the gesture by which the Father points to the chalice.

Picture 35

It is a command and an invitation at the same time. It is a demonstration of divine love: The Father ordains His own Son to be the sacrificial offering. The Son understands the command and bows in consent to the Father. His hand rests heavily on the table and His facial expression shows too that He is aware of His difficult mission - He is looking for support to the Spirit; His rod bows towards Him.

Picture 36

The Holy Spirit gives His consent to assist the work of redemption - He is indeed the Assistant.

Picture 37

The redemption takes on reality in the "Tree of Life". The wood is already prepared and the tree bows to the Son in order to receive Him as its most precious fruit. The work of redemption in the Blood of Christ becomes a reality, Hebr 9,28.

Picture 38

The blood-red upper garment shows the bloody execution of the event of the redemption.

"Why are your garments red, like those of one treading the wine-press?" and the Messiah answers: "I have trodden the wine-press alone; of my people was no one with me", Is 63,2.3a.

Picture 39

The "Staff of salvation" in the hands of the Angels above are closed; but it can be extended downwards - towards the unredeemed human race. This sign of salvation leads us through the baptism out of darkness into the light and community of the Trinity.

The group of Angels, the Holy Trinity, in the Icon of Rublev, leave us one access open - from below upwards. In the background the access to the Angels are likewise closed, sheltered by their wings. One has no access from the flanks - the benches close them. We can only observe the Group from the outside.

Picture 40

Only underneath, between the benches of the two flanking Angels remains free space; it forms the shape of the chalice directing us to the altar. The other chalice formed between the knees of the two flanking Angels leads even further to the chalice of the Holy Eucharist.

Picture 41

The single sacrifice on the cross is represented in this chalice.

Picture 42

In it we have, through grace, access to the community of the Trinity. Of course it also requires our cooperation. The opening on Rublev's altar shows us what kind of cooperation the Holy Trinity expects of us (with God's grace and calling).

The opening in the altar is dedicated to the relics of the martyrs. We are called too, to be Christ's witnesses "to the ends of the earth", Acts 1,8b. For us there is only one entrance to the circle of the Trinity. It is the access which leads us along the way of the relics of the martyrs. Only by this path are we allowed into the eternal "conversation" of the Trinity - not as a mute spectator or listener but rather as an active participant in the dialogue: The Holy Spirit calls in us: "Abba, dear Father!", Rom 8,15.

Picture 43

Through the Holy Spirit we are taking part in the movement which goes through the Son (whose members we are) to the Father.

Picture 44

Through Christ, reaches our life and love in the Holy Spirit the Father.

Picture 45

Through the comm)unity in the Eucharistic Banquet we are receiving grace, enabling us to have (comm)union with the Holy Trinity.

Closing words - see Introduction

IX. Supplement

Creation or Evolution?

Over a century and half ago, an academic controversy swept the world, as a liberal, materialistic philosophy collected data to give Man a new view of his origins. Earlier viewpoints became clouded, ignored, or discarded; our century has thus inherited almost wholly humanistic thought.

There are two major questions: 1. The origin of life, i.e. the events that first gave rise to the remarkable co-operative functioning of nucleic acids and proteins; 2. The mind-body problem, i.e. the physical basis for self-awareness and personality.

What are the options? There are only two:

1. "In the beginning, God CREATED the heavens and the earth..." Gn 1,1; and "By faith we understand that worlds were framed by the Word of God...so that which is seen does not owe its existence to that which is visible" Hebr 11,3 – the Bible.

2. "Once upon a time...perhaps two and a half billion years ago, under a deadly sun, in an ammoniated ocean topped by a poisonous atmosphere in the midst of a soup of organic molecules, a nucleic acid molecule came ACCIDENTALLY into being that could somehow bring about the existence of other like itself" - so called humanistic science.

The first choice sees all natural history as divinely guided towards Man's coming; with it the conviction that man has special and moral responsibility.

The second choice leaves us with no God but rather with an "accident".

Both directions have their creeds, authorities and prophets; and both in the final analysis are religious, that is, - are matters of faith. Let us examine some facts.

A man consists of some seven octillion (7x10 to the 27th) atoms grouped in about 10 trillion cells (10 to the 13th). This agglomeration of cells and atoms has some astounding properties. It is alive, feels joy and suffering, discriminates between beauty and ugliness, and distinguishes good from evil.

Man IS marvelously complex, and complexity shows one of TWO THINGS: Incredible luck or intricate engineering. The seven system-command computers on the Columbia space shuttle (cross-checking each other's facts and figures, and voting on the result) did not mature from some engineer's lost four-function calculator; yet Man's design leaves the computers' far behind!

A lot depends on your PREMISES. A "premise" is an idea one b e g i n s with (a "presupposition") before one collects facts to try to answer questions. People often begin with very different BASES by which they interpret what they see. For instance, a fish and a submarine are alike in some ways; they both have tails, move underwater, and so on. The FACTS are: They are SIMILAR in many ways. Now assume the PREMISE: "Similarity equals COMMON ANCESTRY". With all the right FACTS (the noted similarities), we decide therefore that "the fish is a highly-advanced, miniaturized great-nephew of the submarine". This is no doubt offensive to fishes as well as common sense, but "facts are facts". Change your premise to "similarity equals common design", and with the same set of FACTS you see something very different: "Both fish and submarines were designed to work underwater" (one by Man, one by Man's Creator). With the right FACTS but a wrong PREMISE, you can come up with the WRONG answer for all the RIGHT reasons.

The origin of life: Experiments were conducted by Miller and Urey, shooting little sparks through organic gases in concentrations carefully picked to favor the formation of some of life's building blocks. Not surprisingly, some were formed. Never mind that Earth's original atmosphere couldn't hold HEAVY gases like xenon and krypton let alone the LIGHTER ones used in the experiments (like methane and ammonia), or that a real lightning bolt would fry a darling little amoeba-in-the-making.

DNA structure: Randomized experiments always give a "racemic" (a mixture of both right and left-handed molecules) approximately EQUAL proportions of D and L, right-handed and left-handed amino acids (chemically identical, but "mirror images" of each other) - whereas life proteins consist of LEFT-HANDED MOLECULES ONLY!

The so called "microsphere" idea by S. Foxe: "Perhaps volcanoes did it". Cook a dry mix of L-amino acids and one gets a "thermal pan-polymer" or "proteinoid". Drop these amino acid chains into water and they clump into little groups he calls "micropheres". Since these little shapes look and act physically in many ways like living things, Mr. Foxe believes this is the way it happened. Top marks for ingenuity, but proteinoids resemble life like a junkyard resembles a Mercedes, and they grow like a wet toilet roll, not like an organ. Real life proteins are unique because of their structure and information-carrying sequence. ProteiNOID is not at all ProtEIN: They lack tertiary (three-fold arrangement of molecules) form, their structural mix of amino acids is hopelessly different - they have nothing complex enough going for them inside or outside to ever grow up to be real proteins.

Neither DNA nor protein is molecule that can duplicate itself; DNA is the servant of the cell. What does it take to make a living cell alive? Creative design and organization. What we know about the DNA-protein relationship suggests that living cells have the CREATED kind of design.

Geological conclusions: The neat "geological ages" chart you see on school walls is a MYTH - it never existed like that anywhere on earth or it would be a hundred miles high. Then there are the many examples of totally reversed "strata layers" (Lewis Overthust) that no known force could have produced that way.

Other embarrassing discoveries of modern times include: Human skulls, gold chains, iron pots, etc. in coal, in the so called Pliocena strata*; pollen and anthropods in the so called Pre-Cambrian layers **

  1. 3 million years ago.
  2. * 4 ½ billion years ago.

The records of the rocks is more a testimony to EXTINCTION than to evolution. We see CHANGE between fossils and modern forms, but only of the "variation within kind " (horizontal evolution) accepted by Creationists. Fossil forms on the whole are MORE COMPLEX and VARIED than their counterparts today (except

from those creatures which have not changed significantly at all - ants, dragonflies, cockroaches, etc.).

The fossil record is one of great CATASTROPHE, an order of DEATH, not an order of ascending life. One creation model much researched today is that of Flood Geology, which postulates that much of the fossil record is an order of DEPOSITION, as a terrible judgment swept the world the First Time. See comment to Noah in the "Commentary to the Bible", Genesis, 7,6f. The judgment of the world for the Second Time is indicated in 2 Pe 3,3-7 - "fire".

Dating methods: Radioactive and other dating methods - we do not have the space here to go into the problems of these methods used to establish the LONG AGES of Earth's fossil records. Suffice to say that although these systems have value in confirming the age of MORE RECENT findings, much is based on ASSUMPTIONS that no radical changes have taken place in Earth's atmosphere or radiation decay rates for more distant findings.

The pre-humanoid: The "ape-man" is a figment of the artistic "reconstructor's" IMAGINATION. The fossil finds (apes and many skeletons of modern man) have been shown to be either fictitious or mistaken classification:

"Hesperopithecus" man (1922) was the tooth of a pig;

"Pithecanthropus" man (1926) was an elephant's knee-cap;

"Java Man" and "Peking Man" whose remains "mysteriously disappeared" have been removed from the textbooks;

"Piltdown Man" was a hoax of Ch. Dawson that fooled specialists for nearly 40 years;

"Australopithecus"; Louis Leaky found tools at the sight, and assumed Australopithecus made them. His son found bones virtually indistinguishable from modern man underneath them (13 years later) and said then his discovery "shattered standard belief in evolution" (Parker, op. cit. 117-118).

"Cro-Magnon Man" of Europe have superior size and brain capacity than modern man.

A number of men of great age, but truly human, of gigantic size have been unearthed in the East. All these findings add to the principle that developmental evolution is not the universal law of biology, but rather DETERIORATION or degeneration.

The missing links - they will stay missing.

The most famous "Archaeopteryx", once considered the link between reptiles and birds, is now generally acknowledged as one of the first birds; the discovery of another bird femur in the same strata has ruled her out as being the ancestor of birds, because they ALREADY EXISTED in her time.

The earliest known fossil of each class and order are not half-developed but have all the essential characteristics of their class and order.

As we look at the main groups of fossils, we find that at definite intervals they are all at once and quite suddenly there, in full bloom in all their manifold forms. Any change is entirely lacking.

Evolution, as defined by the humanists, is a real, natural, self-caused, continuing, uphill process - involving energy, structure and information which goes from disorganized to organized, from random to ordered, from lower to higher, from simple to complex, from atom to amoeba, from molecules to man - all uphill processes.

Master Laws of Nature:

- All things run down and not up (Lord Kelvin, 1824);

- Complex things break down - life becomes more disorganized;

- Time and chance make things WORSE, not better - time passing makes things fall apart, not fall together.

- An Agent and a degradable Energy supply: Someone deliberately acting on the disorder with the power to use in fixing it up - the Agent must, of course, pre-exist the system and must be at least as complex as the order he wants in the system.

Take your pick: We are either the product of a cosmic Lottery, or "imagineered" by Wisdom, Love and Power beyond comprehension - accident or design, chance or creation. You either have three impersonals: Time, Chance and Matter, adding up to Impersonal Man and an Impersonal Universe; or you have a Pre-existent Personality imposing order on creation, giving meaning to love, truth and dignity. These options have profound implications for the way you feel about yourself and others in this world.* What, for instance, do you do when overwhelmed by the beauty and awesome, orderly arrangement of a flower? Thank You God! or Praise and honor be to Gases, Geology and Genes! Isn't it odd that a brilliant man could spend fifty years of his life in a lab trying to duplicate life to show NO INTELLIGENCE WAS NECESSARY to form it in the beginning?

*Do you know that, for example

Nietzsche (German philosopher, 1844-1900) who proclaimed that "God is dead"; whose philosophy was one of the theoretical foundation (superman) of the Nazis, welcomed Darwin's evolution's theory (vertical evolution) as a further proof for the non-existence of God.

Communism used Darwin's theory to try to disprove God's existence.

 Rock Music

God called us to be the light unto the world and not a smudge pot.

Commitment to a rock subculture is symptomatic of adolescent alienation.

Fascination with rock music, particularly heavy metal music is often associated with teen drug use, premarital sex and satanic rites.

We have to be alert to the listening habits of young people - it can be an indicator of emotional health. Evidence is mounting that teens who are involved in the rock culture have greater tendencies to be low achievers and are involved in the above mentioned associations.

Music is largely uncensored - we need to start using the music as a clue to what might be going on with the kids. Music definitely influences kids (everyone) - it sets up their whole value system; they choose their behavior on the basis of those values. It's teaching kids stuff! but what kind of stuff?!

Looking at the history of modern music:

Its roots go back to Africa - the music and dances of the primitives are always connected to pagan religious practices.

This was brought to America by the slaves and was accepted into white society. It adapted to its new culture to a certain extent but the tree can never be divorced from its roots!

Christian rock ( Is there such a thing?)

Recommended with reservation! - as a way-out (a substitute).It helps kids to stop listening to secular rock music.

The music of the 80s and 90s is progressively more aggressive, blunt, more graphic - openly advocating drug-use, sex and other abnormal (un-Christian) behavior. We are living in a society today where there are no moral values. Unchristian values are considered as normal: That is the basis rock is working from - and out of the abundance of their heart the mouth will speak!

To get young people away from worldly rock we should get them interested in classical music (there are also very `rhythmic' melodies), if it is possible, or at least in the (so called) Christian rock. The contemporary Christian music industry offers a variety of musical styles and can be an acceptable moral alternative. It is also very beneficial if children (young people) learn to play an instrument.

Bible Insights

For dates (dates often differ in different historical sources) consult "The Small Bible Dictionary". The reasons for this are: The event in question cannot be accurately dated because there are no reliable sources for it; the historical quell uses different dating systems like Daniel uses the Babylonian calendar, while Jeremiah uses the Hebrew system; often one uses guesses to place events in relation to others; etc.), places, events and names, etc. consult "The Small Bible Dictionary" - Appendix.

Genesis 1

There are only two possible explanations for the origin of life. Either the universe, our earth and life itself happened by chance, or all was created. Either the universe was created and is personal in nature, or the universe is a cold, empty, impersonal and purposeless place. The Bible teaches that all was created.

Genesis 2-11

provides an essential introduction to the entire Bible and answers some crucial questions necessary to understand the importance of the call of Abram.

Chapter 1 answers the question, Where did the world come from?. Chapter 2 answers, Where did man and woman come from? Chapter 3 answers, Where did sin and evil come from? Chapter 4 answers, How did murder begin? Chapter 6 answers, How did the world become so evil? Chapter 6-10 answers, How did God save His people through Noah? Chapter 11 answers, How did the world get many languages?

Sin:

Hebrew and Greek terms for wrongdoing. In one aspect "sin" is "falling short of the mark" - we sin because we are human and imperfect. In other aspect "sin" is willful rebellion - we also sin because we knowingly choose to do wrong.

Adam's sin changed his character and had an impact on nature itself, see Rom 8,20-21.

Genesis 4,1-7

God looked with kindness on Abel and his offering because of Abel's faith, see Hebr 11,4.

Contrary to his younger brother, Cain rejected God's way. He rejected the blood covenant. Instead of bringing an innocent sacrifice, he brought the fruit of his own labor - his sacrifice represented his own good works. But even his best good works could not measure up to a perfect, absolute God.

Genesis 6,1-5

This passage is a description of intermarriage of the godly line of Seth, Gn 5, with the line of Cain.

Genesis 7-8

Both rain and subterranean waters were unleashed during the Flood.

The Patriarchs

Genesis 12-25

Genesis 1-11 relates God's dealings with the whole human race and thus prepares for His intervention in human history, through Abraham, to save people from sin. Now the focus shifts. God chose a single individual to father the family through which salvation would one day be offered to all.

God's promises: Genesis 12; see OTC

In Ur, Before God called Abram, he had worshipped the city deity, Nanar, the Moon-god. God revealed Himself to Abram and Abram obeyed.

The promise The fulfillment

I will make you a great nation The OT tells of that nation and people

I will bless you God blessed Abram all his long life

I will make your name great Jews and Christians all honor him

I will bless those who bless you Throughout history those welcoming Jews

and curse those who curse you prospered; persecutors have declined

All peoples will be blessed The Bible and Jesus Himself were given

through you through this family

To your offspring I will give The OT tells of the Jewish people and

this land (Canaan) of that promised land

The covenant

Genesis 15

Covenant in Hebrew is "berit".

The basic covenants in the Bible are the bilateral and unilateral covenants. A unilateral or suzerainty covenant was used by a king to a subject people. God's covenants with man are of this type, Ex 24,3-8.God entered here into the most binding of ancient covenants: A covenant of blood - God alone passed between the pieces, see Gn 15,1.9-18: Abram saw passing between the bloody animals, someone taking his place. According to the ancient covenant wording, someone was vowing "I am dying to myself, I am giving up the rights to my own life. I am beginning a new walk with my covenant partner unto death" - Abram saw Christ walking in his place.

After this , according to the ancient covenant ritual, God and Abram changed names. God who is called YHWH in Hebrew, took the "H" out of His name and put it in Abram's name. So Abram's name was changed to Abraham.

Genesis 25-50

Genesis continues the story of Abraham's family, focusing on his grandson Jacob and on Jacob's son Joseph. God used the jealousy of Joseph's brothers to place him in Egypt, where Joseph rose to a ruler in that great civilization. When famine came, Joseph was able to feed his family and bring them to Egypt, where the Hebrew people would remain for more than 400 years.

Jacob's wives and children

Genesis 29-30

Jacob clearly desired only one wife, Rachel - God's ideal is a monogamous marriage.

At this point in Bible history the covenant promise given to Abraham passed, not to one person, but to all of Israel's sons.

The Exodus

Chapters 1-15

Sometime during the 430 years the Israelites spent in Egypt, they were made slaves. But they also multiplied. When the time was right, God unleashed His miracle-working power and through Moses led His covenant People out of slavery to freedom.

Exodus 3-4

In the dialogue between God and Moses, God revealed His Name - I AM: YAHWEH.

This is taken from the verb "to be" and it means "The One Who Is Always Present".

Exodus 7-8

See OTC

The Pharaoh hardened his own heart, Ex 8,15.32 - the hotter the sun (the more God revealed of Himself) the harder the clay became (the harder the Pharaoh's claylike heart became).

The firstborn

Exodus 12

See OTC

The Passover

The Passover celebrating has many relevant phases - we will restrict ourselves only to a few:

The Cup:

When God renewed His covenant with Abraham, he made him three promises:

- He will have many descendants;

- These descendants will possess the land;

- One would come as a descendants of Abraham who would be a blessing to the whole world.

The "coming one " would not only be their king, but somehow in a way they did not fully understand, he would be "God living among them", see Gn 12,1-3; 13,15-16;15,18;17,1-8.

What better way could the Jews anticipate His coming than be setting aside a place for Him at the Passover meal which symbolized their communion with God.

They placed "the" cup at this reserved place - at the head of the table. It was called the "cup of blessing", see 1 Cor 10,16. No one could drink from this cup because it was reserved for the "coming one". After The "One" came, Jesus the Christ, He drank from this cup and tolled His Apostles that "he will not drink from it again..." until He returns. Compare Mt 26,29.

The "Apostolic Church" will leave an empty Seat and Cup at every Eucharistic celebration - until He Returns!.

The Bread:

During the Meal, the host would take out the middle piece of matza, break it, and pass it around the table - they broke this peace in three! Without realizing it they action foreshadowed the NT belief - the belief in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This middle-piece looked ahead to Jesus, the real "Lamb of God", who was to give Himself. Jesus is this Broken Matza.

See Mt 26,27-28.

When we partake in the New Covenant Meal, we are receiving God's Life - Jesus comes into our lives through the Holy Spirit - but we are also celebrating the life we received - The celebration of the Last Supper is the time of great joy, praise and worship!

The Jews and the "Apostolic" Christians complete their Passover service by saying : "L'Shanah Ha, Baah, Bee-Ru-Sha-La-Yim" = Next Year in Jerusalem" - Next year at the marriage supper of the Lamb! The King is Coming!

The Covenant terms

See Ez 36,24-28, also Hebr 8,1012.

Exodus 13

The Levites will take the place of all the firstborn children of Israel, Num 3,11-13, see also Num 1,47-53.

Dates (see remarks at the beginning of this chapter) from Abraham through Joshua

Abraham born about 2166 B.C.

Enters Canaan about 2091 B.C.

Isaac born about 2066 B.C.

Jacob born about 2006 B.C.

Joseph born about 1915 B.C.

Sold to Egypt about 1898 B.C.

Made ruler about 1885 B.C.

Moved family to Egypt about 1859 B.C.

Israelites made slaves (Ahmose) about 1570 B.C.

Moses born (Thutmose I) about 1526 B.C.

Moses moved to Midian (Thutmose III) about 1486 B.C.

The Exodus (Amenhotep II) about 1446 B.C.

Conquest of Canaan about 1390 B.C.

Exodus 16-40; Leviticus

God led Israel down the Sinai peninsula to Mount Sinai. The people camped there for a year, as God gave the Law to Israel through Moses. Included in the Law are not only the Ten Commandments, but also regulations regarding worship and the structure of Jewish society.

The Ten Commandments:

The first four commandments are rules about man's relationship to God. The last six are His rules about man's relationship to other men.

Exodus 15,22-17,7

The Israelites who left Egypt had been slaves for many generations. They had no experience with freedom or the responsibilities associated with freedom. They did not respond to God's calling with trusting obedience.

Paul suggests that law was given because the people of God were in spiritual childhood, Gal 4,1-7. People who are spiritually mature will do God's will without needing a written law to say "stop", see Rom 8,4.

God introduced Himself - His "calling card" was His Ten Commandment: He showed the Hebrews what His character is and what He is really like.

After receiving these instructions, Moses built and altar and offered a sacrifice to God. He took the blood of the sacrificed animals:

_ He splashed it against the altar;

- He, after publicly reading the Ten Commandments and other ordinances before the nation he threw blood towards the people themselves;

- In the same manner, he sprinkled blood over the Book of the Covenant, see also Hebr 9,18-22.

Then Moses said: "...this blood (not the Ten Commandments) confirms and seals the covenant the Lord has made with you in giving you these laws", Ex 24,8.

God never intended the Hebrews to approach Him by trying to keep the Commandments. He intended the Hebrew to approach Him through a blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin - that is His only provision! The Law was not a part of the blood-covenant - it was His "calling card".

Mount Sinai

Exodus 19-20

The three functions of God's Law:

1. Law reveals God's own character;

2. Law sets high standards that prove human beings to be sinners;

3. Law shows those who love God how to please Him.

How to treat God - how to show love to God

1. Put no gods before Me Trust God only

2. Have no idols Worship God only

3. Do not take God's Name in vain Use God's Name in ways that honor Him

4. Keep the Sabbath holy Rest and think about God

How to treat people - how to show love to others

5. Honor father, mother Respect and obey parents

6. Do not murder Protect human life

7. Do not commit adultery Be true to your husband or wife

8. Do not steal Don't take what belongs to others

9. Do not give false testimony Don't lie about others

10. Do not covet Be satisfied with what you have

The Two Great Commandments of Jesus, see Mt 22,37-39, see Rom 13,8-10.

Exodus 21-23; Leviticus

Certain laws, like the Ten Commandments, express general principles, but general principles are not enough. These must be illustrated and explained by providing examples of how they apply to a variety of situations.

OT law regulates worship rituals, deals with social and criminal matters and establishes moral principles. The Law shows a striking concern for individuals - the wages of hired men are to be paid on time, no one is to be slandered, and no favoritism is to be shown to the rich over the poor, see Lev 19,15.

Crime in the OT is viewed an offense against the victim, and the criminal is to repay the victim directly.

Much of the OT law deals with the needs of the poor, the fatherless and widows, and even destitute foreigners, see Lev 25,35-37; Deut 14,28-29;15,7-11.

The priesthood

OT law set aside the family of Aaron from the tribe of Levi to serve as Israel's priests. Other Levite families assisted.

The book of Leviticus is a book of law:

God is the God of order. He cannot tolerate rebellion in His universe. If He allowed rebellion to go unpunished He would cease to be God and His universe would fall apart. Therefore He punishes rebellion. But God is also love - He cannot exercise His love at the expense of His Justice. So He made a "loving provision" for dealing with man's rebellion:

God determined that at a certain time in history, He would become the "Lamb of God" that takes away the sins of the world, see 1 Pe 1,18-20. All who believes and accepts God's plans in their heart will be saved from the sin penalty - past, present and future generations.

Rules for worship, 11-15

The Day of Cleansing, 16-17

Rules for holy living, 18-22

Rules for special holidays, 23-25

More rules and promises, 26-27

The wilderness years

Numbers; Deuteronomy

After a year at Mount Sinai, the people of Israel were led out toward the Promised Land. Numbers tells the story of how that first generation rebelled against God and refused to enter. That generation was condemned to wander for forty more years until everyone over age twenty died. Then their children were again led by Moses to the edge of Canaan. Moses' great sermons to this new and faithful generation are found in Deuteronomy.

Numbers 11;15

If we compare incidents before and after the giving of the law, we make an important discovery. Before, complaints against God, such as despising the food He provided and breaking of Sabbath law, seem to have been ignored, Ex 15,22-17,7. After, when the people complained, fire falls from the Lord, Num 11,1-3. Compare also Num 11,4-34;15,32-41. When the law was given, the people promised to obey. Breaking the law was now sin in its clear, intentional sense.

Yet even these punishments were gracious and were intended to encourage future obedience.

The book of Numbers tells the story of the two generations. It looks back on the first generation and tells the story of their disobedience. It also looks ahead and tells of the early victories won by the new, obedient generation.

Numbers:

I. At Sinai 1-9

A. Organizing the people 1-4

B. Culminating worship 5-9

II. The Lost Generation 10-19

A. The journey 10-12

B. Disobedience 13-14

C. Years wandering 15-19

III. Preparation for victory 20-36

A. Warfare 20-21

B. Balaam 22-25

C. The new generation 26-31

D. Victory preview 32-36

The sacrifices of the OT:

There are five types of sacrifices. Each sacrifice uniquely reveals something about the nature of the Final Sacrifice when God would give Himself on man's behalf. Taken as a whole, they form a a complete picture of the Perfect Sacrifice - this way everybody should recognize Him when He comes on the scene.

These offerings were:

a. Sin offering;

b. Trespass offering;

c. Burnt offering;

d. Meal offering;

e. Peace offering.

Three of these five offerings were associated with praise and worship rather than sin.

ad a. Lev 4,1-5.13;6,24-30

One presents the Sin offering to God because one is a sinner - we are not a sinner because we sin; but we sin because we are a sinner.

ad b. Lev 5,14-19;7,1-10

Whereas the Sin offering deals with our position before God, the Trespass offering addresses our walk with God - we offer it for the sins we have committed, rather than for sin itself. Because we are sinners, we offer sin offerings; when we sin, we need to bring a Trespass offering.

ad c. Lev 1,3-17;6,8-13

After we offered our Trespass offering and through it expressed a desire for communion with God, we want to offer ourselves to Him - we bring Burnt offering an expression of this.

ad.d. Lev 2;6,14-23

After we have communion with God, we want to walk with Him and serve Him - this offering expresses this.

ad. e. Lev 3;7,11-36

We celebrate our union and service to God by the Peace offering. All other offerings have been leading to the Peace offering. This is the one we are looking forward to presenting. We are getting a portion of this offering - it symbolizes the completion of our union with God.

Because God has returned part of the offering to us, we now are symbolically feeding on His divine nature. He is coming into us and we into Him. We are becoming one with God.

The Old and New Law

But is only a symbolism. It pointed us to the real thing, but it is not the real thing. The blood of bulls and goats can only cover our sins, it cannot take them away.

But in the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born as a Jew, Gal 4,4. All the fullness of God dwelled in Him, Col 1,19;2,9. God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, 2 Cor 5,19. God had come to earth in the man Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for sin on our behalf. He came to purchase our salvation with His own Blood.

To fulfill The Sin offering, Jesus went beyond the gate of the Temple, outside the camp which was the city of Jerusalem, see Hebr 13,11-12.

God considers we who claim Jesus' death on our behalf as being crucified with Him. Our sins are no longer put to our account.

We approach God through faith in the Blood of Jesus, not by trying to keep the Commandments, see Gal 2,16-21;3,15-25, also Hebr 10,1-20.

Trespass offering - Colossians 1,14 " His perfect sacrifice included forgiveness for every sin you committed in the past, every sin you are now committing, and every sin you will commit in the future".

God has forgiven us for all our sins because all of them; past, present and future, were nailed to the cross of Jesus. Not only has God forgiven us for all our sins, but He does not even remember them.

We stay free of condemnation and guilt by confessing our sins to God and claiming the forgiveness that is already ours through the Blood of Jesus.

Burnt offering - see Phil 2,5-8. As the animal was killed on the north side of the Altar, Jesus, too, was crucified on the north side of Jerusalem.

We present ourselves as a living sacrifice by yielding to the Lordship of Jesus over our lives, see Rom 12,1-2.

Meal offering

Jn 6,25-58 is the perfect description of the Old Testament Meal Offering - transplanting (translating) it into the perfect Meal Offering of the New testament - here Jesus "Body" and "Flesh" is this Offering: This all will be a reality at the Last Supper, see Gospels.

Peace offering - Through Jesus' intercession on our behalf, we can cast all our cares upon Him, for He cares for us, see 1 Pe 5,7, also Phil 4,13.

Having been united with Him, we may walk in peace with Him and with each other. His peace will rule over our hearts, see Jn 14,27.

Both Jew and gentile may enter into the New Covenant through the Blood of Jesus, the one and for all perfect sacrifice.

Old Covenant Sacrifice System

Offering Nature Offerer's Priest's God's Priest's Offerer's

Work Work Portion Portion Portion

Sin Bull/Lamb Lay on hands Sprinkle The Whole A Portion None

Goat/Turtle- Kill Animal Blood on Within- not Burned

Dove/Pigeon Altar Without Camp

Trespass Ram Lay on Hands Sprinkle Fat of Remainder None

Kill Animal Blood on Inwards

Altar

Burnt Bull/Lamb/ Lay on hands Sprinkle Burn all on Skin None

Goat/Turtle- Kill Animal Blood on Altar

dove/Pigeon Altar

Meal Fine Flower Bring to Offer Handful Remainder None

Oil Salt Priest Handful

No Leaven

Honey

Peace Bull/Lamb/ Lay on Hands Sprinkle Fat of Breast and

Goat Kill Animal Blood on Inwards Shoulder

Altar Remainder

The New Covenant Sacrifice

Offering Jesus Christ The Christian

Sin Forgiveness for Sinner We are Crucified with Christ

by Becoming Sin for Us

Trespass Forgiveness for Sins we commit by Confess our Sins for

Taking Sins on Himself Reconciliation

Burnt Completely Gave Himself to the Present ourselves by

Father yielding to His Leader-ship

Meal Jesus gives to the Believer His The believer receives

Body and Blood to eat and drink the Holy Eucharist

Peace The Lord dwells in the Christian The Believer lives in

in Peace with God, with

his fellow men and him-self.

Deuteronomy:

This book is arranged in the order of a covenant document of the ancient world with its typical five/six parts:

Historical prologue 1,6-3,29

Basic stipulations 4,1-11,32

Detailed stipulations 12,1-26,19

Ratification statement 27,1-26

Blessings and curses 28,1-68

Recapitulation 29,1-30,20

The book is in the form of an ancient "suzerainty treaty", a b e r i t which defined the relationship between a ruler and his people. This treaty form emphasizes that the OT portrays God as Israel's living King.

Deuteronomy 4,39-40

Having reminded Israel of how God delivered them from Egypt and cared for them in the wilderness, Moses gives his prescription for guaranteed success: "Know and believe this day that the Lord is God. He is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other god! Obey his laws and commands, which I am giving you today. Obey them so that things will go well for you and your children". - Our commitment to follow the Lord will have a positive impact on our children.

The strongest Hebrew word for love is "hesed". It describes a deep bond of loyalty between persons. This kind of biblical love is not just feeling of affection, but is an active commitment to another person. God shows His hesed for us by forgiving and sustaining us, Ex 34,6-7. We show hesed for God by worshiping and obeying Him.

Fear of God:

This OT phrase means taking God so seriously and giving Him such respect that we respond to Him obediently. Thus "fear" is closely linked with love.

Conquest of Canaan - Joshua

Led by Joshua, the Israelites crossed the River Jordan. The conquest took some seven years. Israel's victory was keyed by a series of decisive battles that demonstrated Joshua's military skill as well as his faith.

Rahab

Joshua 2

The book of James (2,25-26) points out that it is not our knowing about God that saves us but our responding to Him.

Memorials

Joshua 4

Joshua ordered twelve stones to be taken from the now dry Jordan and piled together on the land. These were to be a "zikkaron", a Hebrew term which we translate "memorial".

Zikkaron implies more than "memorial". It means identifying with a past event so well that we see ourselves as participating in it. The sign's function will be active, not remote or inoperative. Each future generation was to realize that God opened the Jordan so they could enter the land. This remembering in Hebrew is more than a calling to mind. It involves a remembering with concern; it also implies loving reflection and, where called for, a corresponding degree of action.

Achan

Joshua 7

Why did Achan's family have to die with him?

Achan put in his loot "in his tent", where family members would have known hence the reason they died too. They knew of and participated in Achan's sin.

This shows that even one individual's disobedience could bring harm to the nation.

The Gibeonites

Joshua 9

Joshua's mistake was, among other things, that he failed to inquire of God before making the covenant with them.

Joshua was ordered to destroy the Canaanite civilization, Josh 6,21;9,24.

1. God used Israel to purge the evils from the land - infant sacrifice and temple prostitution;

2. God intended to protect the purity of Israel - the Canaanites and Amorites would turn the Israelites from God. As we know from the OT, the Israelites did not purge the land from these nations and they were indeed turned away from the Lord.

Judges and Ruth

The Israelites settled down in the land that God promised them. But the next centuries were filled with suffering. The people often turned from the Lord and abandoned His Law to worship false gods. God then permitted foreign enemies to oppress His people until the Israelites turned to Him again for deliverance. It was then that God sent them the judges.

The biblical judge:

The Hebrew word "shapat" mean "ruler" or "governor". The "judges" who appeared after Joshua were not simply persons who decided legal disputes but were leaders of the nation in every sense.

Like other ancient rulers the judges did decide disputes but they also had legislative and executive responsibilities and typically led armies as well.The judges of the Bible were leaders by a special call from God.

Most judges, however, served only one or two of Israel's twelve tribes. The people were never united into a single nation during this period.

Characteristics of the age:

Between the 14th and 11th century B.C. some twelve judges appeared in Israel. The time of the Judges extended from the death of Joshua and the elders of that time until God crowned Saul as Israel's first king.

During this period Israel shared a common language and worship but there was no central government. There was a loose association of the twelve tribes, but most government functions were carried out in local villages and towns.

A pattern is found in the story of each judge that sums up the experience of God's people during this era:

Sin The Israelites turn to idolatry;

Servitude Neighboring people oppress them;

Supplication Israel confesses and turns to God;

Salvation God delivers them through a judge;

Silence A period of peace ensues, during which the judge keeps

the people faithful to the Lord.

Causes of decline

Judges 1-3

The removal of the Canaanites was a religious duty, commanded by God because of the moral depravity of the Canaanites, whose worship of Baal and Ashtoreth incorporated sexual orgies and ritual-prostitution by both sexes. Near one of the sacrificial areas, like the one mentioned in Jeremiah 19, there were found thousands of urns containing the remains of children from age two to twelve. God intended these sins to be purged from the land, not only as a divine judgment, but also to protect Israel from apostasy and adultery.

Each tribe failed. Some tribal groups were afraid to attack those Canaanites who lived on the plains because they had iron war chariots, 1,17-21. Others defeated the Canaanites, but rather than driving them out of the promised land, they "forced the Canaanites to work as slaves for them", 1,27-36. This was in direct disobedience of God's command, and divine judgment was passed. God would not "force out the people in this land", 2,3. The result was that the remaining Canaanites intermarried with the Israelites and did draw them into immorality and idolatry.

Gideon

Judges 6-8

"I will be with you", 6,16. Today, too, success does not depend on who we are, but on Who is with us.

Obedience despite doubts is a sign of great faith.

Israel's decline

Judges 17-21

During the era of the judges the people of Israel first lost their spiritual bearings and then the very foundations of morality.

Proverbs 9,10: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" - in Scripture "wisdom" is the ability to make right moral choices.

The Twelve Judges

Othniel 3,7-11 years of suffering 8 years of rule 40

Ehud 3,12-30 enemy Moabites 18 80

Shamgar 3,31

Deborah 4,5 Canaanites 20 40

Gideon 6-8 Midianites 7 40

Tola 10,1.2 23

Jair 10,3.5 22

Jephthah 10,6-12,7 Ammonites 18 6

Ibzan 12,8-10 7

Elon 12,11-12 10

Abdon 12,13-15 8

Samson 13-16 Philistines 40 20

Age of transition

1 Samuel

Samuel was Israel's last judge, and his old age the people demanded a king. Israel's first king was Saul, a man who was tragically flawed. This book of the Bible tells Saul's story and also introduces David, who was destined to become Israel's greatest ruler. This book also tells of Saul's jealousy at

David's growing reputation and Saul's many effort to kill his younger rival. Yet through it all, David remained faithful to his king and to his God.

Hannah's prayer

1 Samuel 1-2

Full surrender often must precede answers to our own prayers.

The United Kingdom

2 Samuel and 1 King

The United Kingdom was the period of time when Saul, David and Solomon ruled over all Israel. After Solomon ruled, the nation was divided into a northern kingdom, Israel, and a southern one, Judah. Upon Saul's death, David was recognized as king by the tribe of Judah. Seven years later all Israel was united under his rule. During the years that David and his son Solomon ruled, Israel reached the pinnacle of national power and glory. David expanded Israel's territory some ten times by military conquest. Relying on diplomacy, Solomon retained that territory. Solomon's control of trade routes brought Israel untold riches. Solomon constructed the great Jerusalem Temple of which his father David had dreamed.

The death of Uzzah

2 Samuel 6,3f

Numbers 4,5f.18f warns that the holy things from the inner room of the Tabernacle were to be covered with skins before even the Levites assigned to carry them could approach. They should "not enter and look at the holy things, even for a second. If they do, they will die".

Uzzah's death emphasized for David and for his people that the Lord truly is holy and must always be respected as such - His ordinances must be taken seriously.

David's sin

2 Samuel 11-12; Psalm 51

In Scripture, guilt is not a feeling. It involves:

- Personal accountability for our sinful acts and their consequences;

- A state of being guilty in God's sight;

- Liability to punishment.

God deals with guilt by forgiving our sins (under certain circumstances). Psalm 51 makes it clear that guilt does affect our feelings, but it is the fact of guilt we must deal with, not just guilt feelings.

Living Psalms:

Psalms which speak against specific experiences of David include Psalm 3 (David realized that many thought God had deserted him. Yet David experienced Him as his shield and strength); 34 (see 1 Sam 21,10-15); 52 (see 1 Sam 21-22); 54 (see 1 Sam 2-3); 57 (see 1 Sam 22,24); 59 (see 1 Sam 19,11-23).

Solomon

1 King 1-14

The Queen of Sheba traveled around 1'000 miles from what is now Yemen.

1 Ki

Elijah, the great prophet lived simply so that others may simply live.He teaches us, among other things, that God alone can answer our prayer, and prayer alone can reach Him.

The books of poetry

Psalms; Proverbs; Job; Ecclesiastes; Song of Solomon

Four of the poetic books were largely written during the golden age of David and Solomon. Each has a different theme. Of the two best known, Psalms teaches the way to an intimate, personal relationship with God, while Proverbs teaches practical wisdom for living day by day.

Hebrew poetry

The verses of the Bible's poetic books do not rhyme as English poetry traditionally has. Yet the Psalms and Proverbs are poetry. While the stress placed on syllables in poetic lines is important, Hebrew poetry is really based on various patterns of expressing thoughts, rather than on patterns of sounds. Thus, rhyming words have no role in Hebrew poetry.

The basic unit of Hebrew poetry is the verse. In each verse the first line states a theme, and following lines develop that theme in one of three ways. This way of building thought upon thought is called "parallelism".

In "synonymous" parallelism the second line simply repeats the thought of the theme line:

"Lord, return and save me.

Save me because of your kindness", Ps 6,4.

In "antithetical" parallelism the theme is emphasized by a second line, which contrasts with the thought expressed in the first line:

"Happiness makes a person smile,

But sadness breaks a person's spirit", Ps 15,13.

In "synthetic" parallelism following lines will amplify or develop the theme stated in the first line:

"The Lord does what is right, and

he loves justice.

So honest people will see his face", Ps 11,7.

Some psalms have other distinctive features. In "acrostic" psalms the first letter of each verse starts with the succeeding letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Psalm 119 is a complicated acrostic psalm, and the words "aleph, bet", etc., that separate its sections, are the Hebrew letters with which each verse- section begins.

Poetry that relies on rhyme is difficult to translate. Because Hebrew poetry relies on images and patterns of ideas, it can be translated into almost any language without loss of power or beauty.

The Psalms

There are many different kinds of poems in the book of Psalms:1. Praise psalms, which help us focus on God and express appreciation to Him. Among these are Psalms 33, 103 and 139.

2. Historical psalms, which review what God has done for His people. Among the historical psalms are 68, 78, 105 and 106.

3. Fellowship psalms, which are about the lowing relationship God maintains with believers. For example 16, 20 and 23.

4. Imprecatory psalms, which emotionally call on God to punish evildoers, like Ps 35, 69, 109 and 137.

5. Confession psalms, which express to God personal sorrow over failures and sins: Ps 6, 32, 51, 102, 130 and 143.

6. Messianic psalms, which predict aspects of Jesus' life and ministry, like Ps 2, 8, 22, 40, 45, 72, 89, 110 and 132.

7. Worship psalms, which were sung during special worship festivals held in Jerusalem. Among these psalms are 30, 92 and 120-134.

As a whole the book of Psalms makes a unique contribution to our understanding ofa personal relationship with the Lord. As we read this wonderful book, we realize that our God invites us to share all with Him. He delights to listen to our joys; He cares about our fears and troubles. We can share every emotion with the Lord and be confident that He will work within us and in our circumstances to guide us toward peace and rest.

Praise

Praise is spoken directly to God, to express our appreciation of who He is and what He has done. Note these elements in Psalm 108,3-4: "Lord I will praise you among the nations..." (the psalmist speaks directly to God). "Your love is so great that it is higher than the skies. Your truth reaches to the clouds" (the psalmist praises God for His qualities).

Praise focuses our thoughts on God. Praise draws us nearer to God. Praise stimulates inner joy. But more important than any of these, God deserves and

wants our praise. The Bible says that God seeks people who will worship Him, Jn 4,23-24.

Proverbs

The book of Proverbs is filled with sayings on many subjects:

I. Sayings concerning wisdom 1-9

II. Sayings of Solomon 10-22,16

III.Collected sayings 22,17-24,34

IV. More sayings of Solomon 25-29

V. Sayings of Agur and Lemuel 30-31

These sayings express general principles which apply to all persons and all times. But general principles have exceptions. Thus, there is no conflict when Proverbs states the general principle, "when a man's ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him", Prov 16,7; and Peter, who instructs the Christian how to respond when persecuted unfairly, 1 Pe 3,13-18.

The sayings in the book of Proverbs cover many different subjects. Among them are attitudes toward work, 10,45;12,24;13,4;14,23;18,9;20,4.17; the dangers of desiring wealth, 10,2.16;11,4.16. 18.28; 16,8; and instructions on our attitude toward the poor, 13,8.23;14,20.31;16,19;17,5;19,1.

Other topics discussed in this practical book include the use of the tongue, 10,20;15,1;16 ,28;21, 23;25,14; and personal qualities and character, 11,22; 13,7;22,3;26,12;30,33.

Wisdom

The books of Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes are classified as " wisdom literature". In the OT "wisdom" is a moral, rather than intellectual, trait. A person is wise if he or she makes right choices and in the process becomes a more godly person. In contrast, the "fool" in the OT is one who is morally deficient and, therefore, chooses sinful paths.

Wisdom literature, then, focuses on the issue of making moral choices and is intended to help the reader evaluate and choose what is right; for instance Prov 2,9.

Several psalms are also classified as wisdom literature; for instance Ps 19, 37, 104, 107, 147 and 148.

From Job we learn that people saw God as a personal friend and as the Creator and Judge of men. The Lord was thought of as One who punishes evil and rewards those who do good.

Job outline:

I. Prologue: Satan's challenge 1,1-12;2,1-6

II. Dialogue of Job and friends 2,11-31,40

III. EIlihu speaks up 32-37

IV. The Lord speaks out 38-41

V. Epilogue: Job is restored 42

Job's vision of God:

Who is God?

God is Creator: He laid Earth's foundations, established its seas, and shaped its features, 38,4-15;

God is Sustainer: He established light and darkness, the winds and the seasons, 38,16-30;

God is Designer of the universe: He gave birth to the constellations, and established the laws that governs the heavens and the earth, 38,31-38;

God is the Life Giver: He filled the Earth with life, each creature with its own unique beauty;

God is Power, 40,15-41,34.

Seeing God's greatness in creation, we are called to humility. The wonder is, this God of Creation has shown Himself in Scripture to care for you and me.

Job 1,1-2,10:

Prosperous Job was "an honest man and innocent of any wrong. He honored God and stayed away from evil", 1,1. Satan challenged God to permit Job to suffer, cynically insisting Job would then deny the Lord. God permitted a series of disasters which devastated Job, yet Job did not deny God or "sin in what he said".

At this point Satan has been defeated and is not mentioned again in the book.

Job 2,11-31:

Three of Job's friends arrive to comfort him. For a long time they sit silent. Then the four begin to struggle with the why. The three friends are convinced that Job must have sinned to merit such punishment.

Job 32-37:

A younger onlooker speaks. Job and his three friends are all wrong, for they have assumed that suffering must always be punishment for sin. Elihu suggest that God may have other motives in permitting the godly to suffer: "He gets them to listen through their pain", 36,15. God may instruct through suffering and draw human beings closer to Him.

Job 38-41:

God Himself speaks to Job "out of the storm". God does not explain His servant's suffering. Instead God points out how much greater in power and wisdom He is than a mere man. What Job must do when he suffers and cannot understand God's purpose, is acknowledge that God is God.

Job 42:

This Job now does, withdrawing his foolish charge that God is unjust. God acknowledge Job as "my servant", 42,7, and gives Job "twice as much as he had owned before", 42,10.

The message of the book for those who suffer is this: Do not try to understand God's motives but simply trust Him to do that which is right and good. It is wrong to always assume that tragedy is God's punishment for sin.

Ecclesiastes

I. Prologue: All is futile 1,1-11

II. Proof of this 1,12-6,12

III. If life is futile, then what? 7,1-12,8

IV. Epilogue: Conclusion 12,9-14

Wisdom from Ecclesiastes, 1,18; 2,10-11; 2,17-19a; 3,22; 5,10; 8,17.

"Now everything has been hard. Here is my final advice: Honor God and obey his commands. This is the most important thing people can do. God knows everything people do, even the things done in secret. He knows all the good and all the bad. He will judge everything people do", 12,13-14.

Song of Solomon

Songs of Solomon is a dramatic poem.

It is an allegory picturing the relationship between God and Israel and between Christ and His Church.

The bride longs for her groom 1,1-2,7

They meet and praise each other - the bride praises her groom

with figures from nature 2,8-3,11

The groom comes and praises the bride 4-5,1

The groom has gone away and the bride expresses longing for him 5,2-6,3

The groom returns, the marriage takes place, and the new couple's

happiness brings rejoicing 6,4-8,14

Kings and Prophets - Israel

1 King 12--2 Kings 18; Obadiah; Jonah; Amos; Hosea

Upon Solomon's death, his great kingdom was divided into two hostile nations. For David's sake, and in keeping with the Davidic covenant, 2 Sam 7,11-16, Solomon's son Rehoboam ruled over Judah from Jerusalem. But the ten northern tribes of Asher, Zebulun, Naphtali, Issachar, Manasseh, Ephraim, Reuben, Simeon, Gad and Dan broke away to follow Jeroboam and to establish a nation called "Israel".

Every king of Israel did evil and led his people away from the Lord, despite the prophets sent from God. When the people refused to return to the Lord, Israel was finally destroyed by the Assyrians.

Kings and Prophets of Israel

Jeroboam I an unnamed man of God and Ahijah 931-910 B.C.

Nadab 910-909

Baasha Jehu son of Hanani 909-886

Elah 886-885

Zimri 885/4

Tibni 885-880/874

Omri 880-874

Ahab Elijah 874-853

Elisha

an unnamed prophet

Micaiah

Obadiah

Ahaziah 853-852

Joram (Jehoram) Elisha 852-841

Jehu Elisha 841-814

Jehoahaz 814-798

Jehoash Elisha 798-782

Jeroboam II Jonah 793-753

Amos

Hosea

Zechariah 753/2

Shallum 752

Menahem Hosea 752-742

Pekahiah 742-740

Pekah 740-732

Hoshea 732-723

The ten "lost" tribes:

Many have assumed that ten of the Hebrew tribes were "lost" when the Assyrians carried the people of Israel into captivity. Were the ten northern tribes "lost"?

When Jeroboam I set up his false worship system, many Israelites who loved God left to settle in Judah, 2 Chr 11,13-17.

Thousands from each of the ten northern tribes had moved to Judah. So, no tribes were "lost" when the Assyrians took Israel's citizens into captivity; representatives of every tribe lived in Judah.

Beside this fact, we also realize now that many of the deported from the Northern Kingdom, whose whereabouts was unknown until now, are now emerging from different parts of the globe and immigrating back to Israel - these Jews obviously preserved their distinctive religious and cultural inheritance in spite of deportation, suffering and persecution.

Jonah

I. Jonah disobeys God 1

II. Jonah prays and submits 2

III. Jonah preaches in Niniveh 3

IV. Jonah mourns Niniveh's response 4

Amos

I. God will judge the sins of nations 1-2

II. God charges Israel with specific sins 3-6

III. God gives Amos visions of the coming judgment 7-9,10

IV. God gives Amos visions of a glorious kingdom to come 9,11-15

Hosea

I. The unfaithful wife 1-3

II. The unfaithful people 4-14

A. Sins of Israel denounced 4-8

B. Doom of Israel pronounced 9-10

C. God's love affirmed 11

D. Divine discipline to come first 12-13

E. Divine blessings to follow 14

What are the marks of injustice in a society? Amos provides the following criteria:

- Oppression of the poor, 4,1;

- Bias against the poor in the justice system, 5,12;

- A denial of God, 5,25-27;

- Insensitivity of the wealthy to the needs of others, 6,4-6;

- Dishonest business practices, 8,4-5;

- A passion for wealth, 8,4-6.

Elijah and Elisha

1 Kings 17--2 Kings 13

This century was critical in Israel's history. King Ahab, urged by his evil queen Jezebel, made a concerted effort to replace worship of Yahweh with the worship of Baal. God raised up two prophets, Elijah and Elisha, to spearhead the struggle against Baal worship. Their stories gives us insight into the role of prophets in ancient Israel and into the spiritual battles waged in OT times.

Elijah's depression and God's dealing with it

1 Kings 19

1. While the depression was deepest, God simply offered support and provided for Elijah's immediate needs. God even spoke to him in a gentle whisper, 19,12.

2. God encouraged Elijah, who felt alone and deserted.

3. God gave Elijah a task to do. Depression brings lethargy. It is important for a person troubled by depression to remain active and do necessary daily tasks.

4. God gave Elijah a companion.

Not alone

1 Kings 20

Elijah was not the only prophet of God active in Ahab's reign. An unnamed prophet confronted Ahab when he let the defeated Syrian ruler, Ben-Hadad, live, 1 Ki 20,35f. An official named Obadiah had hidden 100 prophets of the Lord during the earlier famine, 1 Ki 18,4. Later Elisha met "the sons of the prophets", 2 Ki 2,3.

Micaiah

1 Kings 22

A "lying spirit": Note that God did not suggest the lie, and that He, in fact, revealed the truth through Micaiah.

Jehu

2 Kings 9-19

Jehu used religion for his own ends. In the process he did perform God's will and was rewarded by the Lord. But Jehu's lack of commitment to God led ultimately to the end of his dynasty and to the destruction of his People.

Kings and prophets - Judah

1 Kings 14--2 Kings; Joel; Micah; Isaiah; Nahum; Habakkuk; Zephaniah; Jeremiah

When Solomon's kingdom was torn in two, David's tribe, Judah, and some of Benjamin's tribe remained faithful to David's descendants. This southern area became the kingdom of Judah. It was ruled by a series of nineteen kings, all from David's line. Eight of the nineteen were more or less godly kings. Even so, the nation experienced tragic spiritual ups and downs. Finally, the apostasy was so great the God used the Babylonians to punish Judah. The great conqueror, Nebuchadnezzar, destroyed Jerusalem and Solomon's Temple and carried the people of Judah away as captives.

Judah existed as a nation for about 344 years, compared to Israel's survival for only 208 years. This is explained primarily by the fact that in Judah godly kings often led religious revivals, which turned the people back to God.

These revivals were marked by a fresh commitment to obey God's word and usually by a revival of religious festivals and Temple worship. In addition, some of the godly kings aggressively rooted out pagan practices and destroyed Judah's "high places".

Yet even the most godly kings were unable to turn the hearts of God's people completely to the Lord. The revivals were superficial, and Judah, like her sister Israel, became less responsive to the Lord and more committed to idolatry. When Judah's sin was too great to overlook, God unleashed Babylon.

Kings and Prophets of Judah

Rehoboam 931-913 B.C.

Abijah 913-911

Asa 911-870

Jehoshaphat + (or Josaphat) 873/870-848

Jehoram (Joram) 853/841

Ahaziah 841

Athaliah 841-835

Joash + Joel 835-796

Amaziah + 796-767

Azariah (Uzziah) + (750) Isaiah 767-740

Jotham + " 740-732

Micah

Ahaz " 732-716

Isaiah

Hezekiah + " 716-687

Micah

Manasseh 687-643

Amon 643-641

Josiah + Huldah 641-609

Nahum

Habakkuk

Jehoahaz + Zephaniah 609

Jeremiah

Jehoiakim + " 609-598

Jehoiachin + " 598-597

Zedekiah + " 597-597

Sometimes kings ruled at the same time as their fathers or sons.

+ indicates good kings.

Micah

I. Judgment is sure to come 1-3

II. Glory will follow judgment 4-5

III. Sin will surrender to salvation 6-7

Perhaps the most important verse is Micah 6,8 which summarizes God's call to the sinning people of both kingdoms.

Isaiah

The book of Isaiah is often called the Gospel of the OT because of its many and beautiful pictures of the coming Savior.

I. Visions of Judgment 1-35

A. Israel's Holy One 1-6

B. Immanuel 7-12

C. Oracles of judgment 13-24

D. God's purposes 25-35

II. Historical interlude 36-39

III. Visions of glory 40-66

A. Beyond the exile 40-48

B. The Servant of the Lord 49-55

C. Need of redemption 56-59

D. Full salvation 60-66

Isaiah's images of God are linked with names given to the Lord. Various passages help us see God in various ways. To Isaiah God must be understood as the Holy One, 5,15-16, and as Sovereign Lord, 8,13-15. God is Judge, 11,3-5, and He is our Salvation, 26,1-4.12-13. God is the Everlasting God, 44,6-8, the Living God, 40,11;41,10.13, and Lord of Glory, 60,1-3.

Some of Scripture's most beautiful predictions about Christ are found in Isaiah 7,14;9,1-8, and 11,1-12. In other passages, called the "servant songs", Jesus is seen as the Servant of God who accomplishes His will and who wins salvation for human beings, 42,19;49,1-6;50,4-11;52,13--53,12.

Habakkuk

Habakkuk 2 explains how God is judging the wicked even when they seem to prosper. - They are denied satisfaction, 2,4-5. Their acts create a hostility that will destroy them, 2,6-8. They are denied security, 2,9-11. Their accomplishments will not last, 2,12-14. They will be treated the way they treated others, 2,15-17. Never suppose that anyone "gets away" with sin.

I. Babylon will punish Judah 1

II. God punishes the sinner 2

III. Visions of God's past judgments 3,1-15

IV. Habakkuk's fear and faith 3,16-19

Jeremiah

I. Jeremiah's mission 1-10

II. The broken covenant 11-20

III. Judgment approaches 21-29

IV. New covenant promises 30-39

V. Jerusalem's fall 40-51

VI. Historical appendix 52

28,1-17 - the iron yoke.

30-31 - the New Covenant.

The New Testament tells us that Jesus put the New Covenant into effect when He died on the cross. The Holy Spirit is given to those who obey the Lord, Acts 5,32. This transforming power does what the old covenant could not, 2 Cor 3,7-18.

Life in Babylon

Lamentations; Ezekiel; Daniel; Esther

The people of Judah were taken to Babylon. The early deportations were mainly from the upper classes and the skilled artisans of the Jews. Many of them were settled near the rich and busy capital city. Life in Babylon was not hard, and many Jews prospered. Yet, others longed for their lost homeland, considered their sins, and turned to the Lord.

Three different groups of captives had been taken to Babylon. The first group was drawn from the upper classes. The teenage Daniel was among them and was selected with several young friends for special training for future posts in the administration of the empire. Another likely group included Judah's artisans. The final deportation was the largest and included all but the very poor.

The spiritual impact of the captivity

Although life was good in Babylon, many Jews yearned for their homeland and their God. From the decades spent among their pagan captors, several vital religious reforms emerged in Judaism:

1. The captivity purged many Jews of idolatry.

2. The Temple, which had been the focal point of Jewish worship, was now destroyed. In Babylon a new institution, the Synagogue, developed. The word synagogue simply means "gathering". The Jews met in the local assemblies to study the written word and to worship God with collective prayers and to read the psalms in unison. Even after the Temple was rebuilt, the synagogue continued to be the central in Jewish life.

3. The Jewish people now spoke Aramaic, the common language of the Middle East. Soon a class of men developed whose mission was to study and to teach the Law, which had been written in Hebrew. These men, called Scribes, replaced the priests as the prime interpreters of the Scriptures. In the NT such persons, trained in the Law and in religious tradition, were given the familiar title "rabbi", which means "teacher".

The Bible reminds us, "God punishes us to help us, so that we can be come holy as he is". While discipline may be painful, "later...we have peace because we start living the right way", Hebr 12,10-11.

Lamentations

I. Jerusalem mourns 1

II. Jerusalem in ruins 2

III. A call to renewal 3

IV. Restoration ahead 4

V. An anguished cry for relief 5

Ezekiel

I. Prophecy against Judah 1-24

II. Prophecy against nations 25-32

III. Prophecies of restoration 33-39

IV. Prophecy of a new Temple 40-48

Ezekiel 18,4: "The soul that sins will die". Ezekiel establishes an important principle. God deals with individuals as well as nations. The "soul" who repents and does right will live.

The faith of Babylon:

Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar replaced Assyria as the dominant world power. But Babylon was itself destined to fall to another conqueror, Cyrus. By 550 B.C., Cyrus conquered Persia and had added the larger Median province. He defeated King Croesus and added that territory to the growing empire. Then in 539 B.C. Babylon fell to Cyrus without a battle, and Cyrus took over the administration of that great empire.

A series of rulers followed, including the famous Xerxes who was barred from Europe in 490 B.C. by the Greeks at the battle of Marathon. Xerxes, who is called Ahasuerus in the Bible, was the ruler who made the Jewish girl Esther his queen.

Daniel

I. Daniel's life and work 1-6

II. Daniel's visions and prophecy 7-12

Daniel's dates reflect use of the Babylonian calendar while Jeremiah uses the Hebrew system.

We see five important themes throughout the book of Daniel:

1. God shows His power by being in control of kingdoms and individuals, 3,17. 29;4,34-35.37;5;6,16.22.

2. Ultimately, God's Kingdom will prevail over all the kingdoms of men, 2,31-45;7;8,9-14.23-25;9,24-27;11,30-35;12,11.

3. The heavenly struggle between good and bad angels is visible in the earthly conflict between good and evil, 10,13.20;12,1-3, see also Eph 6,10-12.

4. God must punish His people for sinning, but His grace delivers them, 9,3-19.

5. In spite of persecution and death, God's people must remain faithful to Him, 1;3,17-18.28;6,10.22-23.26-27.

Returning home

Ezra; Haggai; Nehemiah; Zechariah; Malachi; Daniel

When Cyrus established his Medo-Persian empire, he permitted captive people everywhere to return to their homeland. Several thousand Jews eagerly returned to the Holy Land about 539 B.C. They went there to rebuild the Temple of God and to reestablish the Jewish nation in the land God has promised to Israel.

There are three groups which returned to Judah:

The first in 538/7 B.C.

The second in 458 B.C.

The third in 444 B.C.

Ezra

See OTC

I. The first return 1-6

II. The second return 7-10

Haggai

I. The call to rebuild 1,1-15

  1. A promise of glory 2,1-9

III. Blessing promised 2,10-19

IV. God to triumph 2,20-23

Zechariah

Part I

I. Introduction: Return to God 1,1-6

II. Eight visions and oracles 1,7-6,15

III. Messages on fasting 7,1-8,19

IV. Conclusion: Longing for God 8,20-23

Part II

V. The Lord intervenes: His Shepherd 9,1-11,17

VI. The final intervention of the Lord:

The suffering 12,1-14,15

Nehemiah

I. The walls rebuilt 1-6

II. The covenant renewed 7-12

III. Sins purged 13

Malachi

I. God chose Judah 1,1-5

II. Judah neglects God 1,6-2,9

III. Judah breaks commitments 2,10-16

IV. Judah doubts God's presence 2,17-3,5

V. Judah denies God 3,6-4,3

VI. Closing exhortation 4,4-6

"I hated Esau", Mal 1,1-5: One meaning of the Hebrew word for "hate" is to decisively reject. Here "hate" is used in this sense. God decisively rejected any claim of Esau to the covenant promise He gave Abraham.

B

The Church Takes Stand II

Table of contents

1. Bible Insights – Jesus and His world

2. "Non-Christian Sects" - continuation of Church 1/VI

3. The End Time Church is a "House-Church"

4. Thoughts on the Universe

5. Thoughts to consider

6. The Biblical Foundation for Making and Mending Relationships

7. Ash Wednesday

8. The Passover Seder

9. Advent and Lent

10. Prayer service

11. The Passion of our Lord Jesus the Christ

12. Occult practices (cont.- see above # 2)

a. Iridology

Definition and characteristics of sects/cults

b. Other means to find out about the future

The Prophet Elijah

Astrology, Numerology, Palmistry, Card-reading, Crystal ball,

tea-leaves...., Telephaty, Spiritism, Spiritualism, Clairvoance

                   

c. Urantia Book

d.Shamanism

Addenda

Some remarks

The Bahai's faith

Addenda

A Christian always has to make an informed decision

Jesus and His world

- continuing from Church 1b

Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem about five miles south of Jerusalem. At that time the land of the Jews was an insignificant district in the mighty Roman Empire. No one would have imagined that world-shaking events would take place there. Yet for hundreds of years, God had been shaping the world, specifically the land of the Jews, for a unique event, the birth of His Son.

Jewish politics

After the Babylonian captivity Judea and the promised land were under foreign rule. One of the worst of these rulers, Antiochus Epiphanes, stimulated a revolt in 168 B.C. when he ordered pigs to be sacrificed in the Jewish Temple. After three years of fierce guerrilla struggle, the Jews were victorious. Jerusalem was taken, and on December 25th 165 B.C., the Temple was rededicated. Today the Jewish people still commemorate this event with Hanukkah, the Feast of Lights.

The Jewish revolt was led by the Maccabean family, who succeeded for a time in maintaining some semblance of independence. In 64 B.C. the kingdom was annexed by the Romans to their empire. In 47 B.C. Herod was made a Roman procurator in hopes of appeasing the Jews, so the Romans could control the region. Later he was made an administrative king under Rome's control in 37 B.C.

The empire

When Jesus was born, the Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus, ruled a vast area, Lk 2,1. In his forty-years rule this Roman emperor controlled all the lands along the Mediterranean Sea and also the islands of Britain.

It was Roman policy to permit a great degree of self-government to the diverse peoples within the empire.

The Sanhedrin, of which we read in the Gospels, was both a Jewish religious and secular court.

In Palestine, Herod the Great ruled the combined lands of Judea and Galilee for Rome. Herod the Great was the ruler who ordered the wise men to betray the Christ child and, when they did not obey, commanded that children be killed.

Herod was also a builder. He beautified the Jerusalem Temple and built the Roman-style city of Caesarea on the coast.

When Herod died, civil war broke out. The Roman army stepped in. For some twenty years after the civil war, the Holy Land was at peace under three different Roman governors. Then Pontius Pilate became governor of Judea.

There are several "Herods" in the Gospel. The Herod who ruled Galilee when Jesus was an adult was Herod the Great's son. He had John the Baptist's head cut off. Later, Jesus was sent to Herod for trial. Herod ruled from 4 B.C. to about A.D. 39, Mt 14,1; Mk 6,14; Lk 23,6-7. His title was Tetrarch.

The dream of independence

The Jewish people yearned for freedom but different political and religious groups disagreed about how to achieve Judah's future independence:

The Zealots - armed rebels.

The Essenes - withdrew to an isolated desert community and lived an ascetic life.

The major parties dominated Jewish life in Jesus' time.

The Sadducees controlled the priesthood in the time of Christ. They were the party of the wealthy upper class, which thought it best to get along with the Romans. This was because Rome supported their claim to power and enabled them to misuse the priesthood to gain vast wealth.

The Pharisees were a small group. They were the religious conservatives of the day. They were committed to keep every detail of God's Law until the Lord sent the Messiah. They believed that the Messiah would free God's people, shatter Rome and make Israel powerful once again.

The Messiah

The true hope of the Jewish people was rooted in Old Testament prophesies about the Messiah, God's Anointed.

Daily life in Jesus' day

Life was hard, and wages were low. Those who worked for others were paid daily, and a day's wage was just enough to buy food and shelter.

Education

The Jewish ideal was that every workman should be a scholar, and every scholar a workman. The true goal of Jewish education was holiness, which could be achieved by knowing God's Law and living in full harmony with the Law of God.

Jewish worship

In cities throughout the Roman Empire Jews gathered in Synagogues each Sabbath. There they read and discussed the Scriptures, and joined together in ritual prayers and songs of worship.

Yet Jerusalem retained her unique position in Jewish thinking and worship - she was the site of God's Temple.

Jesus - the baby, the boy

The first four books of the New Testament are known as the Gospels. The word means "good news". These books tell the story of Jesus' life on earth, His death on the cross and His resurrection from death. What the Gospels say about Christ's birth makes it clear He is both the Old Testament Messiah and the Son of God.

Jesus' birth

Luke 2,1-16

A study of Roman census records and records concerning the death of Herod in 4 B.C. suggest that Jesus was born in around 5 B.C. The calendar we use today was introduced in A.D. 525; due to calendar inaccuracies from the time of Augustus, Dionysius, who prepared the calendar we use today, missed the actual date of Jesus' birth by some years.

The virgin birth

John 1

The Bible teaches that the divine Christ existed before conception and that no human fathered Him.

In ~ 700 B.C. Isaiah predicted that a child born of a virgin would be "Immanuel", a name that means "With Us Is God", 7,14. The Gospel accounts stress the fact that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, so that the baby born to Mary was no ordinary human being, but "the Son of God".

How important to Christianity is the deity of Jesus Christ? The Bible says, "If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God", 1 Jn 4,15.

Mary and Joseph

Matthew 1; Luke 1;3

They were both extraordinary in their readiness to obey God.

Mary joyfully accepted her role;

Joseph, too, immediately accepted the angel's word that Mary's Child was from the Holy Spirit.

Jesus' childhood

Luke 2,41-52

According to the contemporary customs, Jesus would have begun school between ages five and seven and have been taught for several hours a day by a teacher. In the school teaching would be oral; key passages of the OT would be memorized.

Jesus' childhood passed pleasantly (see WT - Visions) - He worked beside Joseph and played with other children of the neighborhood. Jesus' Mother played an important role in His education.

Jesus' Temple visit

Luke 2,41-52

At the age of twelve each Jewish boy became a "son of the law". The ceremony (Bar-Mitzvah) is a "rite of passage" and means the individual is now considered an adult as far as responsibility to obey the laws of God is concerned.

The year Jesus was twelve, He went with His parents to Jerusalem for the seven-day Passover celebration.

Jesus' baptism and temptation

Matthew 3-5; Lk 3-4; John 1-2

When Jesus was about thirty years old, John the Baptist began to preach in Judea. John called on the Jewish people to repent and warned them that the promised Messiah was about to appear. Jesus was baptized by John and the Holy Spirit and then led by the Spirit into the desert. There He was tempted by satan. Only after passing this test did Jesus begin His own ministry of preaching.

John the Baptist

Luke 3; Matthew 3

The two boys, Jesus and John, grew up and their families spent some time together. Then, in young adulthood, John disappeared into the wilderness.

John's mission was to prepare the hearts of God's people for Jesus' appearance and to prepare them spiritually for the mission Christ would soon undertake.

Jesus' message

Matthew 3; Luke 3

John's preaching was blunt and compelling. First, he confronted his listeners with their sins and called for repentance. The word "repent" indicates a change of both heart and life. John demanded that his hearers make an inner commitment which would be demonstrated by a holy life.

John's baptism was a public commitment!

John announced that very soon the promised Messiah would appear. The people must prepare themselves for His appearance.

Jesus identified

Matthew 3,13-17; John 1,29-34

As Jesus came up out of the Jordan River where John baptized Him, He was baptized in the Holy Spirit and God's confirming voice was heard.

Temptation

The same Greek word that is translated as "temptation" is also rendered as "test" or "trial".

The difficult situations which God permits are not intended to cause us to fall, but rather to strengthen us.

The miracles of Jesus

The Gospels

The Gospels report a number of miracles performed by Jesus. In each case these helped others. The miracles had at least two distinct purposes. They clearly demonstrated the love of God and they also authenticated Jesus as One who came from God and who acted in God's name. Both Jesus' words and works showed Him to be the Son of God.

The miracles of Jesus

Miracle Scripture Where performed What it shows

Power over nature

Turns water to wine Jn 2,1-11 Cana Jesus is God's Son

First catch of fish Lk 5,1-11 Sea of Galilee Shows Peter that

Jesus is Lord

Stills the storm Mt 8,23-27; " Teaches disciples

Mk 4,35-41 to trust Jesus

Lk 8,22-25

Feds 5,000 Mt 14,15-21 near Bethsaida Jesus cares about

Mk 6,35-44 people in need

Lk 9,12-17

Jn 6,5-15

Walks on the sea Mt 14,22-33 Sea of Galilee Shows disciples Mk 6,45-52 Jesus' power

Jn 6,16-21

Feeds 4,000 Mt 15,32-39 near Bethsaida Jesus cares about Mk 8,1-9 the hungry

Money from fish Mt 17,24-27 Capernaum Pays Peter's tax

Withers fig tree Mt 21,17-22 Jerusalem To teach faith

Mk 11,12-14;20-25

Second catch of fish Jn 21,1-14

Sea of Tiberias Reveals Jesus to disciples power over sickness

Heals nobleman's son Jn 4,46-54 Cana Faith

Cures man with harmful skin disease Mt 8,1-4

Galilean city Faith, caring

Mk 1,40-45

Lk 5,12-15

Heals soldier's servant Mt 8,5-13 Capernaum Faith

Lk 7,1-10

Heals Peter's mother-in-law Mt 8,14-17 " Friendship"

Mk 1,29-31

Lk 4,38-39

Heals paralyzed man Mt 9,1-8  Jesus has power and

Mk 2,1-12 can forgive sins

Lk 5,17-26

Cures woman of bleeding Mt 9,20-22  Faith

Mk 5,25-34

Lk 8,43-48

Gives blind their sight Mt 9,27-31  Faith

Heals crippled hand Mt 12,9-14 Galilee God cares for Mk 3,1-6 people more than for Lk 6,6-11 religion

Heals non-Jewish girl Mt 15,21-28 Tyre God loves all

Mk 7,24-30 people, Heals deaf man who cannot talk Mk 7,31-37 Decapolis Bring friends to Jesus

Heals a man at a pool Jn 5,1-18 Bethesda Faith

Gives back sight Mk 8,22-26 " Bring friends to Jesus

Gives sight to man born blind Jn 9,1-41 Jerusalem God's power

Heals man with dropsy Lk 14,1-6 " God loves people more than religion

Heals ten of harmful skin disease Lk 17,11-19 Galilee Need to be grateful

Replaces ear of high priest's servant Lk 22,49-51

Garden of Getsemane - Jesus' deep love for

Jn 18,10-11 enemies

Power over evil spirits

Heals man who could not talk because of demon Mt 9,32-34

Capernaum Jesus' power is from God

Sends evil spirit

from man Mk 1,23-27  Jesus has power over

Lk 4,33-36 the devil

Heals man who was blind and could not

talk Mt 12,22 Galilee Jesus' power is from

Lk 11,14 God

Heals child from demon Mt 17,14-20 Mt

Tabor Faith is greater Mk 9,14-29 than satan

Heals woman crippled for 18 years Lk 13,10-17 Jerusalem - God loves people, not religion

Power over death -Raises Jairus' daughter Mt 9,18-26 Capernaum - Faith

Mk 5,35-43

Lk 8,41-42.49-56

Raises widow's only son Lk 7,11-16 Nain Caring

Raises Lazarus Jn 11,1-45 Bethany - Jesus has power over death

The persons Jesus recalled to life were not resurrected to eternal life at that time but were recalled to earthly life. That is, they were brought back to biological life but were destined to die again.

Exorcism. The Bible gives no ritual for casting out demons. Jesus simply spoke to the demons and commanded them to leave.

The Church developed exorcism for which the first traces we find in the NT

Acts 16,16-18 - "In the Name of Jesus Christ I (Paul) command you to come out of her".

Jesus, the great teacher

The Gospels

Jesus' ministry on earth was marked by teaching as well as healing. Many of Christ's teachings were publicly presented to eagerly listening crowds.

Jesus often illustrated His sermons by stories and parables. Frequently, He used everyday examples to make His message clear. Some of His parables are difficult and were not intended to be understood by those who did not believe Him, Mt 13,11-14.

A survey of Jesus' teachings show us how important His words are to us as we seek to please God with our daily lives.

Jesus' teaching ministry

Jesus often put familiar truths in a new perspective and showed the missed meaning of what His hearers already knew. To illustrate fresh meaning, Jesus often told stories or used illustration from nature and ordinary life.

The Bible often presents obedience to God's word as essential evidence of a true faith in God and love for God, see Jn 14,23-25; Jas 1,22-25.

To be a neighbor means to show love in a practical way.

Jesus' sermons

The Beatitudes

Matthew 5,1-12

Each of the beatitudes shows the basic kinds of attitude with which persons can approach life. The blessed, who find true happiness, abandon the attitudes that pervade human society. Rather than being self-confident and self-reliant, they "know they have great spiritual needs..." and depend on the Lord. Rather than being satisfied with what this world offers, they hunger and thirst for righteousness. Rather than being self-willed, they are meek, that is, utterly responsive to God.

True happiness is not to be found in this world or its values but rather in the believer's commitment to the values of God and those things which are important to Him.

Stories Jesus told

Parable Passage Subject Lesson

New wine bags Mt 9,16-17 Jesus' message Jesus has a new message from God

Farmer and the seed Mt 13,1-8 God's word We must hear and obey Mk 4,3-8 God's word

Lk 8,5-8

Weeds Mt 13,24-30 God's people The good and the bad will be separated

Mustard seed Mt 13,31-32 " Small beginnings can Mk 4,30-32 lead to big things

Lk 13,18-19

Yeast Mt 13,33

Lk 13,20-21

Hidden treasure Mt 13,44 " Choose what is truly valuable in life

Very valuable pearl Mt 13,45-46 " "

Fishing net Mt 13,47-50 " The good and bad will be separated

Lost sheep Mt 18,12-14 God's love God loves each person Lk 15,3-7 deeply

Servant who would not forgive Mt 18,23-25 God's people We forgive because God forgave us

Workers in a vineyard Mt 20,1-16 Service God rewards us generously

Two sons Mt 21,28-32 God's love God welcomes the sinner who comes to Him

Evil tenants Mt 21,33-46 Punishment People who hate God's

Mk 12,1-12 Son will be punished

Wedding dinner Mt 22,1-14  People who do not accept God's invitation will be punished

Ten virgins Mt 25,1-13 Jesus' return We must be ready when He comes back

Talents Mt 25,14-30 Service We must use our abilities to serve God

Wise and evil servants Mt 24,45-51  We are to serve God and Lk 12,42-48 others as we wait for Jesus to return

Two men who owed money Lk 7,41-43 God's people We love God more when we realize we are sinners

Good Samaritan Lk 10,30-37 Service do good to all in need

Friend at midnight Lk 11,5-8 God's love God is always willing to help

Unimportant seat at party Lk 14,7-11 Humility Don't be proud: Let God reward

Lost coin Lk 15,8-10 God's love Each one is important to God

Son who left home Lk 15,11-32  God forgives all who change their hearts and minds and return to Him

Clever manager Lk 16,1-10 God's people We are to use money to do good and prepare for the future

Rich man and Lazarus Lk 16,19-31 Punishment People who love money more than God are foolish

Unworthy servants Lk 17,7-10 Service Serve God because we are thankful

Unfair judge Lk 18,1-8 God's love God will answer our prayers if we ask Him

Pharisee and tax collector Lk 18,9-14 " Anyone who changes his heart and life can be forgiven

Bags of money Lk 19,11-27 Service Use our talents to serve God

Jesus' disciples

The Gospels

Jesus chose Twelve Disciples, called Apostles. The Apostles were baptized by Jesus (cleansed from all their sins and prepared to enter the Church) and instructed into the ministry.

Pentecost is the birth of the Church!

At Pentecost, the Apostles were baptized in the Holy Spirit and entered the Church. They understood the teaching of the Lord and His ministry because the Spirit opened their hearts and minds. They were also equipped to fulfil their own ministry.

Peter - the Great Fisherman

He is named first on each list of the disciples.

Peter was the first to preach the Gospel after Jesus was raised from the dead, the first to perform a miracle and the first to preach to Gentiles.

Peter is mentioned more often than any other disciple, see Lk 5,1-11; Mt 16, 13-26;26,31-35.69-75; Jn 21,15-19; Acts 1,15-26.

Peter, John and James formed the inner circle of the disciples, see also Church 1 - & 25 Our Christian Fundaments - Jesus and His ministry.

Discipleship

See Jn 1,43-49

The disciple's way of life was to:

(See Lk 12,17)

- Evangelize, Lk 12,1-12;

- Rely on God, Lk 12,13-34;

- Serve others, Lk 12,35-48 - In the NT "slave" (Greek doulos) emphasizes the surrender of our will to God that He might direct us. "Servant" (diakonos) typically emphasizes doing good to benefit others. Our Lord's will is that we should actively seek the good of others as an expression of our commitment to Him.

- Live together in harmony, Lk 17,1-10 - Even Jesus' followers will sin against and hurt one another. We express our hurt to the one who sinned against us and freely forgive that person.

- Eagerly expect Jesus' return, Lk 17,20-37 - Each day we need to be about the things that will please Him, aware that He may appear at any time.

Jesus and His enemies

The Gospels

Some who heard Jesus responded eagerly to Him but most held back, unable to make up their minds. Still others hated Jesus and became His active enemies.

It was these enemies who finally convinced the Roman governor to permit Jesus' execution.

Jn 2,12-19

God's people were commanded in the OT to attend three major annual celebration. Also, individuals were told to have a priest make animal sacrifices for them as offerings or for forgiveness of sins. Each sacrificial animal had to be pronounced ritually clean (unblemished) before it could be sacrificed.

Annas, the high priest, (priests generally) used his position to his advantage by controlling all products used in worship.

The temple-tax could not be paid in Roman or Greek coins - they often carried the pictures of a pagan deity. The acceptable temple-shekel was also sold to the worshipers at exorbitant prices. Thus, money changers sponsored by the priestly families were also found in the temple-court.

Jesus drove the merchants from the Temple. Christ's action made the guilty priests implacable enemies.

Many of Jesus' enemies were not motivated by religious convictions but by greed and by a desire for worldly power.

The Pharisees

Matthew 12,1-14

By Jesus placing human needs above the legalistic quibbling over interpretation of the law, He revealed the hypocrisy of many Pharisees.

They had become so concerned with details of the law that they ignored the love which the law was intended to encourage.

Jewish Law

Matthew 7,1-23

To understand the Pharisees conflict with Jesus, we need to understand their beliefs. The Pharisees believed that when God gave the OT's written Law, He also gave Moses an oral law which interpreted it. This oral law, which had been passed on from teacher to teacher, held the same authority as Scripture for the Pharisees.

Some examples of oral Sabbath law illustrate its nature - it was all right to spit on a stone on the Sabbath, but it was wrong to spit on soft ground for you might move the dirt, and this would be plowing.

We see similar treatment of the law today. Since 1987 was a "sabbatical year" in modern Israel, OT Law required that the land not be cultivated but be given its own seventh year (Sabbath) rest. But Israel's rabbinic court, its highest religious authority, ruled that Jews could lease their land to non-Jews for

cultivating because of the impact that resting the land would have on the nation's economy.

Such interpretations in Jesus' time led to a focus on the trivial and to ignoring the true message of OT Law. Jesus told the Pharisees, "You have stopped following the commands of God. Now you only follow the teachings of men", Mk 7,8. For many of the Pharisees, a failure to grasp the love that underlay Scripture's Law led to the major flaws in their movement.

Jesus identified the following faults in the movement:

- Pride Mt 23,1-12;

- Hypocrisy Mt 23,13-15;

- Spiritual blindness Mt 23,16-22;

- Lack of mercy Mt 23,23-24;

  • Wickedness Mt 23,25-36.

Not all Pharisees were hypocrites.

The Sadducees

Matthew 22,23-33; Luke 20,20-26

The Sadducees were an aristocratic party, committed to keep peace with Rome and protecting their wealth. They were closely linked to the priests and were influential in the Sanhedrin, the ruling Jewish council. Unlike the Pharisees, the Sadducees were not popular with the people.

The Sadducees rejected the Pharisees' view that oral law had the same authority as the written word. They gave priority to the five books of Moses. Yet, the Sadducees were very concerned that religious rituals be conducted correctly.

They also believed that the soul perishes with the body and that there was no resurrection.

Stories about Jesus and His enemies

Jesus clears the Temple Mk 11,15-19

Jesus heals on the Sabbath Mt 12,9-14

Jesus rejects human rules for living Mk 7,1-23

Jesus is accused of being Satan's friend Mt 12,22-27; Mk 3,20-30; Lk 11,14-

28; Jn 8,12-59 Jesus tells a story about His enemies Mt 21,33-43

Jesus avoids the Pharisees' trap Mt 22,15-22

Jesus avoids the Sadducees' trap Mt 22,23-33

Jesus judges His enemies' sins Mt 23,1-36

Intent to kill

John 18-19

In John's Gospel "the Jew" does not mean the Jewish people. The phrase refers to those leaders who hated Christ.

In effect, the Jewish leadership proved so determined to have Jesus killed that they were willing to lie in order to commit judicial murder! Their hatred of Christ clearly reveals the emptiness of all their claims of spirituality and godliness.

Attacks on Jesus prove that the attackers, not Christ, follow the devil's evil paths.

Dead, but alive!

The Gospels

Jesus had travelled and taught in Judea and Galilee for over three years. Then one of Christ's own disciples betrayed Him. Jesus was given an illegal night-time trial and finally was condemned to crucifixion by an unwilling Roman governor. Three days after He was buried, Jesus was raised from the dead. That resurrection is one of the best attested of all ancient events.

Jesus' last weeks on earth

Jesus enters Jerusalem on donkey - Sunday, Mt 21,1-17; Mk 11,1-11; Lk 19,29-44

Jesus drives sellers from the temple - Monday, Mt 21,12-13; Mk 11,15-18;

Lk 19,45-46

Jesus teaches in the Temple – Tuesday, Mt 22,23-24,14; Mk 11,27-12,12;

Lk 20,41-44

Judas agrees to betray Jesus - Wednesday, Mt 26,14-16; Mk 14,10-11; Lk 22,3-6

Jesus gives His last teaching to His disciples - Thursday, Jn 14-16

Jesus shares the Last Supper with His disciples - Thursday, Mt 26,17-25;

Mk 14,12-26; Lk 22,7-30;

Jn 13,1-30

Jesus prays in Gethsemane garden - Thursday, Mt 26,30-46; Mk 14,26-42;

Lk 22,39-46; Jn 18,1

Jesus arrested and tried by Sanhedrin - Friday (before dawn), Mt 26,47-27,1;

Mk 14,43-15,1;

Lk 22,47-71; Jn 18,2-27

Jesus judged to die by Pilate - Friday (morning), Mt 27,11-26; Mk 15,1-5;

Lk 23,1-25; Jn 18,28-19,16

Jesus is killed on the cross - Friday, Mt 27,31-56; Mk 15,20-46; Lk 23,26-49;

Jn 19,17-30

Jesus is buried - Friday to Sunday, Mt 27,57-66; Mk 15,42-47; Lk 23,50-56;

Jn 19,31-42

Jesus' tomb found empty - Sunday, Mt 28,1-10; Mk 16,1-8; Lk 24,1-12;Jn 20,1-10

Jesus seen - Sunday, Mk 16,9-11.12-13; Lk 24,13-35; Jn 20,11-18

Jesus comes to His disciples - Sunday, Mk 16,14; Lk 24,36-43; Jn 20,19-25

Jesus was seen by many in the next 40 days!

An illegal trial

Matthew 26,47-27,1

The night of the trial the council members broke the law they were dedicated to uphold. The trial of Jesus by the Sanhedrin was illegal according to Jewish Law. That law stated the Sanhedrin could not meet at night, and that at least a day must pass before a person who was tried and found guilty could be sentenced.

Jesus on the cross

Jesus is offered drugged drink Mt 27,34

Jesus is crucified Mt 27,35

Jesus cries, "Father, forgive them" Lk 23,34

Soldiers gamble for Jesus' clothes Mt 27,35

Jesus is insulted by His enemies Mt 27,39-44

Jesus is told cruel things by the thieves (at first, Mt 27,44 but then)

Jesus is believed in by one of the thieves Lk 23,39-43

Jesus says, "Today you will be with me in paradise" Lk 23,43

Jesus says to Mary, "Behold your son" Jn 19,26-27

Darkness falls over the land

Mt 27,45; Mk 15,33; Lk 23,44

Jesus says, "My God, my God, why have you left me alone?" Mt 27,46-47;Mk 15,33

Jesus says, "I am thirsty" Jn 19,28

Jesus says, "It is finished" Jn 19,30

Jesus cries, "Father, I give you my spirit" Lk 23,46

Jesus dies Mt 27,50; Mk 15,37

Christ's Church established

Acts 1-2

Forty days after Christ's resurrection, He returned to the Father. Jesus told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the gift of the Holy Spirit, who would "baptize" them and give them power to carry out their mission. When the Spirit did come, Peter preached the first sermon. This occurred on the Jewish feast day of Pentecost, a date that is considered the birthday of Jesus' Church.

The book of Acts

I. The Jerusalem Church 1,6-6,7

II. Expansions in the Holy Land 6,8-9,31

III. The first Gentile converts 9,32-12,24

IV. Era of Gentile missions 12,25-16,5

V. The Gentile Church 16,6-19,20

VI. Paul's imprisonment 19,21-28,31

Acts describes what happened; the Epistles explain what happened.

The ministry of the Apostles in a nut-shell: "We are Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God", 2 Cor 5,20.

Jesus said when away He would 1. prepare a place for His followers, Jn 14,1-3. The book of Hebrews tells us 2. that Jesus now provides access for us to the Throne of Grace, so that we can come to God in any time of need, Hebr 4,14-16. John's first letter 3. shows that Jesus speaks in our defence when we fall into sin, pleading His own Blood as the basis of continuing forgiveness, 1 Jn 2,1-2. Colossians tells us 4. that the universe itself is being held together only by an exercise of Jesus power, 1,17. As head of His Church, 5. Jesus' words guide and direct believers by communicating His will to us, Eph 1,20-22 - this communication takes place in the Church of Christ and mainly through the Charismatic Offices, Eph 4,11f.

The book of Acts is not so much a report of what the Apostles did as it is a revelation of what Jesus accomplished through the Holy Spirit in their lives.

The Holy Spirit

Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would be with His followers "forever", Jn 14,15-17. This is a vital relationship, for the Spirit is the living link between the individual and Christ. The Spirit teaches us, Jn 14,25-27, aids our prayers, Rom 8,26-27, and strengthens us, Rom 8,2-11.

The presence of the Spirit was promised for and within the Church; for the Charismatic Office bearers (notice, for instance, that Jesus speaks in Jn 14,25f to His Apostles - this promise, in the first place, was not a general one).

Pentecost

The Day of Pentecost came 50 days after Passover on the Jewish religious calendar. It was a joyful harvest festival, during which the first of the crop was offered to God.

Looking at the Acts, we note that there were three visible signs of the coming of the Holy Spirit: 1. The sound like a rushing wind; 2. something like visible flames over the disciples, and 3. the disciples speaking in different languages, which were understood by visitors from foreign countries. Peter pointed to these miraculous signs as evidence that a prediction of the prophet Joel, that God would give all believers His Holy Spirit, was now fulfilled, Joel 2,18.

If we compare Pentecost with other mentions of "tongues" in the New Testament, we note that in Acts they involve speaking in foreign languages. in 1 Corinthians 14,2-4 tongues (glossolalia) involve speaking to God in an unlearned language. The same Epistle defines baptism of the Spirit

as the work by which the Holy Spirit joins the believers to Christ's body and the Epistle says this experience is for us "all", 1 Cor 12,13.

The Church

1. The Church is a Body, Rom 12,1; 1 Cor 12; Eph 4;

2. The Church is a Family, Eph 3,14-18;

3. The Church is a Holy Temple, Eph 2,21-22; 1 Pe 2,5.

The Charismatic Offices are designed to lead this Family of Christ, see Eph 4,11f.

Sabbath to Sunday

By meeting on Sunday, Christians celebrate Jesus' resurrection.

One of the signs of the Old Covenant was the Sabbath - the Day of Yahweh.

One of the signs of the New Covenant is Sunday - the Day of the Lord.

The change of the Covenant effects the change of the sign also.

Early Christian preaching

Acts 2

The book of Acts summarizes several evangelistic sermons given by the Apostles Peter and Paul. These sermons contain the major elements of the Gospel message:

Jesus lived a human life, died on the cross and was raised again and exalted to God's right hand, where He lives today to be trusted as Savior and worshipped as Lord.

Belief or faith

In Scripture "faith" is not belief about a set of facts but rather an active trust in a person. The kind of trust in Jesus that the Bible describes by the word "faith" or "belief" is an active response to God, demonstrated by obedience to His word.

A loving Community

Acts 2,42-47

Love for God was expressed by devotion to the Apostles' teaching, by sharing the Lord's Supper (the "breaking of bread"), by prayer and by praise.

Love for one another was expressed by being together, sharing meals, and by a willingness to meet each others needs.

Expansion

Acts 3-12; James; 1 & 2 Peter

Excitement gripped Jerusalem as thousands turned to Christ. The Jewish leaders, shocked by these events, responded by persecuting the Apostles and then ordinary Christians. But the Gospel message spread beyond Judea and beyond Judaism! During these years two leaders were prominent: Peter, who led in outreach, and James, the "brother of Jesus". James wrote one of the NT Epistles.

Acts 4,23-31

In that prayer the Christians 1. affirmed God's sovereignty over all earthly powers; 2. asked for "great boldness" to speak God's word; 3. asked God to work wonders through Jesus' name.

Acts 5,1-11

The sudden death of Ananias and Sapphira for lying to the Holy Spirit raised the issue of holiness. God's judgment of this pair set a standard for the Church and showed everyone that sin is not to be tolerated in Christ's Church. First Corinthians 5 makes Christian leaders responsible for disciplining believers who make a habitual practice of sin. Such persons are to be "put out" of the Church, see also 2 Cor 2,5-11.

Acts 5,12-16

The Bible reports several periods of miracles: The Exodus, the time of Elijah and Elisha; the time of Jesus and the early days of the Church - the reasons for the disappearance of such great miracles out of the life of the Church, see WT - The Apostate Churches and the Only one true "apostolic" Church.

The Bible calls such miracles "signs and wonders" and so makes their purpose clear. Each term indicates that the miracles were intended to demonstrate to observers that the person through whom they were performed did actually speak for God.

Acts 7-8,4

The blood of the martyrs of the Church is the seed of the Body of Christ.

James

While Paul wrote in his letters of the object of faith (that is, what one must believe), James is concerned with the expression of faith (that is, how a person with faith will live).

Any "faith" which exists apart from an active obedience to God is not what the Bible means by faith in the Lord.

Outline of James

I. Practical faith 1,2-2,13

A. In personal attitudes 1,2-18

B. In personal relations 1,19-2,13

II. Principles of true faith 2,14-25

III. Challenges to faith 3,1-4,17

A. Controlling the tongue 3,1-12

B. Submitting to God 3,13-4,10

C. Judging others 4,11-12

D. Self-reliance 4,13-17

IV. The future and faith 5,1-19

A. Judgment on sinners 5,1-6

B. Patience and prayer 5,7-19

Peter's letters

1 Peter

I. The calling of holiness 1,1-2,12

A. Strengthened by hope 1,3-12

B. Set on holiness 1,13-2,12

II. The calling of submission 2,13-3,7

III. The calling of suffering 3,8-4,19

IV. Concluding exhortations 5,1-13

2 Peter

I. Confirmation of our calling 1,1-21

A. Our productive lives 1,1-11

B. God's sure word 1,12-21

II. False teachers 2,1-22

III. The end of the present world 3,1-18

Paul, the great missionary

Acts 13-20; Galatians

Saul, the zealous Pharisee, became Paul, the Christian leader. He led the mission that penetrated the vast Roman empire with the Gospel in a single generation. The bulk of Acts reports Paul's missionary journeys.

Paul's missionary Journeys

Acts and the New Testament Letters

(For the given dates see the remark at the beginning of this chapter - Bible

insights) ~ this sign indicates "approximately" - exact dates are often impossible to establish.

Crucifixion of Jesus A.D. 30 (this date will be taken as a starting point to the following dates; remembering the remark about Jesus' birth)

Pentecost (Acts 2) 30

Stephen martyred (Acts 7) 35

Paul converted 35

Paul in Arabian Desert (Acts 9; Gal 1,17) 35-37

Paul to Jerusalem (Acts 9; Gal 1,18f) ~ 37

Paul in Tarsus ~ 37-43

Paul in Antioch ~ 43-48

Paul's first missionary journey 48-49/50

Galatians written 49 (or as late as 57)

Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) ~ 49

Paul's second missionary journey (49) 50-52/53

1 Thessalonians written 51/52

2 Thessalonians written 51/52

Paul's third missionary journey (52) 53-57/58

1 Corinthians written 56/57

2 Corinthians written 56/57

Romans written (between) 52-57/58

Paul's visit to Jerusalem (Acts 21) 57

Paul's arrest (Acts 21-24) 57

Paul in prison 57-59

Paul's sea voyage to Rome 59-60

Paul's first Roman imprisonment 60-62

Hebrews written (between) 60-67

Ephesians written 60/61

Colossians written (between 59-61

Philemon written (between) 61-63

Philippians written 62 (or as early as 55)

Paul released and traveling (61/63) 62-64

1 Timothy written 62/63

Paul travels to Spain 64-66

Titus written (between) 63-66

Paul in Greece 67

Paul arrested and taken to Rome 67

2 Timothy written ~ 67

Paul put to death in Rome 68 (possibly as early as 64)

City of Jerusalem destroyed 70

The first century world

Many features of the Roman world opened the way for the first missionary movement. Nearly everyone spoke "koine" (everyday) Greek in addition to their local tongue, so there was no language barrier to overcome when preaching the Gospel.

Roman legions maintained peace, making it possible to travel from place to place by ship or on good roads.

The Romans also permitted the free exercise of native religions within the empire. Judaism was one of these legal religions. For decades Christianity was viewed as a sect of Judaism, so missionary work was protected by law.

Paul's missionary strategy

Each Roman province had "hub" cities, which were located on land or sea trade routes. These cities were administrative and cultural centers. People from outlying districts and towns came to these hub cities to buy and sell and to learn the latest news.

Paul brought missionary teams to the hub cities of the empire. There the teams first went to Jewish synagogues to preach the Gospel. The synagogue was a good place to begin for several reasons. First, the Jewish people had a right to hear of Jesus immediately, for He was their Messiah. Second, Gentiles who were attracted to the Jewish concept of God and high moral vision were associated with many synagogues. Those who had not completely converted to Judaism by accepting circumcision but who still adhered to many of its beliefs are called "Godfearers" or

"Gentiles who worship God" in Acts. Both God- fearers and Jews typically formed the core of believers of the churches Paul and his team founded.

Most of the time Paul did not travel alone but with a missionary team.

Paul himself also revisited the young churches with the whole team. On this return-visit elders were appointed.

Paul also wrote letters of instruction to strengthen the young churches.

Paul also sent assistants like Timothy and Titus to visit the churches and help them resolve problems.

The letter to the Galatians

I. Paul's apostleship 1,1-2,21

II. Justification by faith 3,1-5,12

A. Law has no relationship to life 3,1-18

B. Law always has a limited role 3,19-4,8

C. Law is inferior 4,8-5,12

III .Freedom and spiritual power

from the Holy Spirit 5,13-6,10

IV. Concluding remarks 6,11-18

Missionary adventures

These events took place over a period of some ten years - the church was planted in strategic hub cities throughout the Roman empire, which in turn fed surrounding towns and villages, thus spreading the Gospel to the Roman world.

Paul's imprisonment

Acts 21-28; Philippians

After some 10 years of work, Paul went to Jerusalem. He was almost killed in a riot outside the Jerusalem Temple but was rescued by Roman soldiers. He was arrested, and when the Roman governor seemed about to turn him over to the Jews to stand trial, Paul exercised his right as a Roman citizen and "appealed to Caesar". It was decided that he must go to Rome, to be judged there in the Emperor's own court.

Paul and the Jews

See Romans 9,2-3

The Mosaic law expressed moral standards which were also taught in the NT. But that law also contained worship rituals and rules that were specifically for Israel before Christ came. Paul was free to keep ritual requirements or not to keep them. What he argued against in his letters, was the idea that all persons must keep the full Mosaic law (and, thus, become a Jew spiritually through circumcision) in order to be a Christian.

Acts 24-26;28

M. Antonius Felix was Roman Procurator (governor) of Judea between A.D. 52 and 59.

Porcius Festus was Procurator of Judea between A.D. 59 and 62.

King Agrippa was a great-grandson of Herod the Great. He ruled under the Romans and controlled the temple treasury. He also appointed the Jewish high priests. The Romans often asked Agrippa's opinion of Jewish religious questions.

Bernice was the sister of King Agrippa and lived with him.

The Pretorians were a special military unit stationed in Rome as the emperor's own troops. They were the guards assigned to be with Paul in his rented house in Rome while he waited trial.

While Paul was awaiting trial he was free to share the Gospel with his many visitors.

Paul's prison letters

While in Rome Paul wrote several New Testament letters - Philippians, Colossians, Ephesians and Philemon. These are called the "Prison Epistles".

The letter to the Philippians gives us the most insight into the impact of Paul's imprisonment.

I. Joy in the Gospel 1

II. Joy in following Jesus 2

III. Joy in commitment 3

IV. Joy in the Lord 4

After Acts

Early Christian tradition reports what happened to Paul after his first trial in Rome. Paul was acquited of any crime and released. Then Paul went to Spain to continue planting new churches. He spent about three years there and then returned to Greece (?). Here Paul was arrested again. This time the Roman court found Paul guilty and put him to death.

What did Paul look like?

A writer from the second century gives us this description: Paul was "a short man, with a bald head and crooked legs, in a healthy body, with eyebrows meeting and a nose somewhat hooked, full of friendliness".

Paul writes to troubled churches

1 & 2 Corinthians; 1 & 2 Thessalonians

1 Corinthians

Salutation 1,1-9

I. Division in the church 1,10-4,21

II. Discipline in the church 5,1-6,20

III. Marriage problems 7,1-40

IV. Doctrinal conflicts 8,1-11,1

V. Conflict over practices 11,2-34

VI. The nature of spirituality 12,1-14,40

VII. Doubts about resurrection 15,1-58

Parting words 16,1-24

Church discipline, 1 Cor 5; Mt 18,15-17:

1. is intended to be a progressive, loving attempt to bring a wayward church member back into close relationship with the Lord;

2. is to be used when believers continue to be unrepentant;

3. involves an individual and loving confrontation with that person about the need to repent and then confrontation by the church leaders if necessary;

4. culminates in expulsion from the fellowship if the individual will not repent.

Discipline in the Church is a loving act of correction, not punishment. It is God the Father's way to correct His children, as an earthly father would correct the child he loves.

Love and humility are to mark our honest disagreements with fellow believers who love the Lord and trust His Word.

2 Corinthians

I. Personal notes 1-2

II. Ministry principles 3-5

A. Transparency 3

B. Confidence 4

C. Motivation 5

III. Paul's personal example 6-7

IV. New Testament giving 8-9

V. Spiritual authority 10-13

If you have suffered a deep loss, ask God to lead you to other Christians who have had the same experience. Your suffering will uniquely equip you to minister to them.

New Testament giving:

The Old Testament principle of the tithe (ten percent) is not repeated in the New Testament. Instead, Paul calls on us to see all we possess as God's and to give generously by comparing what we have with the needs of others, 8,13-15. There is no compulsion to give, 8,8, nor is any set amount established, 8,12, but we are encouraged to remember that "the person who plants a little will have a small harvest" and that "God can give you more blessings than you need. Then you will always have enough of everything. You will have enough to give to every good work", 9,6.8, Surely, giving is one of the Christian graces.

1 Thessalonians

Salutations 1,1

I. Praise for progress 1,2-3,13

II. Instructions 4,1-5,24

A. Christian living 4,1-12

B. Christ's return 4,13-18

C. Watchful waiting 5,1-11

D. Mutual love 5,12-15

E. Avoiding evil 5,16-24

Conclusion 5,25-28

2 Thessalonians

Salutations 1,1-2

I. Praise for progress 1,3-12

II. Confusion clarified 2,1-17

III. Present priorities 3,1-15

Final greetings 3,16-18

Truth for life - Paul's letters

Romans; Ephesians; Colossians; Philemon

Paul's letters to the churches are both doctrinal and practical. The Apostle communicates basic truths and then shows how these truths strengthen believers to live productive and godly Christian lives.

Rome, capital of the empire

Rome was the largest and most exciting city on earth. Spreading over seven low hills east of the Tiber River, the 800-year-old city was 12 miles across at the time when Paul's letter arrived. Rome had a population of about one million, and over half its inhabitants were slaves.

Rome was a city of great contrasts. Its population was generally very rich or very poor. The poor lived in tiny rooms in narrow, high apartment houses in the center city. Rome was also a city of beauty and culture. The rich lived in great villas, boasting gardens and swimming pools. Emperors generally tried to make the city beautiful, with marble and gold covering the temples and public

buildings. The city boasted libraries and even publishing houses where slave copyists produced books.

Rome was a city with sewers. Water was carried to it by fourteen aqueducts. These stone waterways ran for 1300 (~2,000 km) miles and carried 300,000,000 (~ 1,300,000,000 l) gallons of water to Rome each day.

In Paul's time sports events often pitted men against wild animals, and gladiators fought to the death in the Circus Maximus. Later in Rome's Colosseum many Christians were tormented and killed for the amusement of the population.

About 20,000 Jews lived in Rome in Paul's time. They experienced periodic persecution, and several times all Jews were expelled from the capital. Under persecution, the Jews, and later Christians, dug long tunnels and rooms in the soft rock under the city. There are approximately 600 miles (~960 km) of these catacombs under Rome where early Christians met to worship and, at times, were even forced to live and to bury their dead.

The letter to the Romans

"Righteousness" or being "made right" in the Bible refers to the way God establishes a proper relationship between Himself and His creation. Righteousness is primarily God's activity, and most often means God's righteousness.

Greetings 1,1-17

I. There is non righteous 1,18-3,20

II. God gives righteousness 3,21-5,21

III. God enables righteous living 6,1-8,39

IV. Righteousness is history 9,1-11,36

V. A righteous new community 12,1-15,13

Personal notes in closing 15,14-16,27

Nero

Nero was emperor when Paul penned his letter to the Romans. A decade later Nero would order Paul's death. Nero's speech writer was the younger brother of Gallio, the proconsul who protected Paul in Corinth, Acts 18. Nero appointed Festus, who later sent Paul on to Rome, as governor to Judea.

As emperor, Nero proved bloodthirsty and cruel.

When Rome burned in July of A.D. 64, rumors spread that Nero had caused the fire. The Roman historian Tacitus reports that Nero found a scapegoat. His "Annales" say Nero blamed "a race of men...called Christians..." "They were put to death with exquisite cruelty, and to their sufferings Nero added mockery and derision...At length the brutality of these measures filled every breast with pity. Humanity relented in favor of the Christians".

In Romans 1-3 "law" means God's revealed standards of right and wrong.

Romans 3,21-26: God's justice - when Jesus became a sacrifice for sin, His death became the basis on which God forgives believers of the past as well as present.

God is just and will punish sin. But God is also love, and so He bore that punishment Himself through Christ.

The person who loves and responds to God will do what is good.

Ephesus

Ephesus was the largest Asian city. It was an active port, but it was most famous for its magnificent Temple of Diana (or Artemis).

The theme of the letter to the Ephesians is the Church.

Paul uses several different images to help the Ephesians understand how much greater the glorious spiritual structure of God is than their city's famed temple.

Salutation 1,1-2

I. The Church is people 1,3-2,22

II. The Church is Family 3,1-4,16

III. The Church incarnates Christ 4,17-6,20

Final Greetings 6,21-24

Those who are spiritually dead can do nothing to please God. Thus, no good works can earn salvation. But Christians, who have been given life (born again) and "created in Christ Jesus", are intended by God "to do good works", Eph 2,1-10.

God's family - we take our name "family" from the fact that God is our Father. This family image was so important in the Early Church that believers commonly addressed each other as brother and sister, see Eph 3,14-21.

God's people are to be a living incarnation of Jesus in today's world.

Husbands are to love their wives as Jesus loved the Church and put the Church's needs before His own, Eph 5,22-33.

The armor of God - the word for armor is "panoply". This was the battle gear of the most heavily armed Roman foot soldiers, Eph 6,10-20.

Colossae

The city of Colossae lay inland but at the junction of major highways. It had a mixed population, which included a large Jewish colony. In this cosmopolitan city a variety of philosophies and religions flourished, and Christian truths were apparently reinterpreted.

The letter to the Colossians was also written to combat a heresy called "gnosticism". The Greek word "gnosis" means "knowledge". The gnostics claimed to have a special knowledge, and through that knowledge to know the secrets of salvation.

The gnostics were, among other things, strict dualists. They believed that the material and spiritual worlds were completely separate. The material was only evil, and the spiritual was only good. So God, who was spiritual and good, must be totally isolated from this world. God could not have been the creator, for this would imply contact with the material. It also followed that Jesus could not have been both human and divine.

Colossians strikes directly against this false system of beliefs. Jesus is God. Jesus Himself created the world, 1,16-17. Jesus entered the world as a true human being, and God "reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death", 1,22. The Christian will find no release in the practices of the gnostics, 2,16-23, but will find fulfillment by living a godly daily life, 3,1-17.

There is a gap between the material and spiritual universe but Jesus bridged that gap for us. Jesus lived His life on earth in union with the Father, doing the Father's will. Jesus calls on us to daily live godly lives.

Greetings 1,1-2

I. Paul's prayer for the Colossians 1,3-14

II. Knowing Christ 1,15-2,7

III. False spirituality 2,8-23

IV. True spirituality 3,1-4,6

Personal greetings 4,7-18

Bear with - the Greek word means to "put up with". Each of us is on a journey towards spiritual maturity. But none of us has arrived. So, in each of us, there is much which others must "put up" with, Col 3,13.

Philemon

About half the people in the empire were slaves.

Philemon is a personal letter. In it Paul asks a convert of his to welcome back a runaway slave as a brother. This brief letter gives an insight into the Christian dynamic that did ultimately rid the world of slavery, by affirming that master and slave are human together and, if believers, are brothers and sisters in Christ.

The Pastoral letters

1 and 2 Timothy; Titus

These three NT letters, called the pastorals, were written by Paul to guide Timothy, Titus and other appointed leaders of the Church.

Church leaders

1. Charismatic Offices: See Eph 4,11f; The Teaching of the Church of Jesus the Christ; WT.

2. Local Offices: See also The Teaching of the Church of Jesus the Christ; WT.

As churches were founded in various cities, local leaders were appointed by the Apostles - Apostolic Offices: "Episkopos", "Presbyteros" and "Diakonos".

God places greater emphasis on a leader's character than on his talent or education. We should maintain God's priorities when church leaders are selected.

1 Timothy

Greeting 1,1-2

I. The goal of sound teaching 1,3-20

II. Instructions for worship 2,1-15

III. Instructions concerning church leaders 3,1-16

IV. Instructions on godliness 4,1-16

V. Instruction on ministries 5,1-6,2

VI. Concluding exhortations 6,3-20

2 Timothy

This is the final letter which Paul wrote just before his execution in Rome. In it Paul encourages Timothy to be willing to suffer with him for the Gospel.

Paul looks ahead in this letter and sees difficult times.

Paul's advice to Timothy in view of the coming trials rings true for us as well.

Greetings 1,1-2

I. The call to be faithful 1,3-18

  1. The life of commitment 2,1-16
  2. Marks of ungodliness 3,1-9

IV. The call to continue 3,10-4,8

V. Personal remarks 4,9-18

Final greetings 4,19-22

The letter to Titus

Crete - was once the center of a great Minoan civilization. That civilization was destroyed when a volcano in the nearby Santorini Islands erupted about the time Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt.

After that, Crete declined.

The Mediterranean people had little respect for Cretans. Paul quoted the Greek poet Epimenedes, who wrote about 600 B.C., when he described these people as "liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons", Tit 1,5 ("amend what was defective"). Yet the Gospel Titus ministered there had the power to transform Cretans into a people "eager to do good works", Tit 3,5.

We should not think of teaching merely as saying words. This letter helps us see teaching as a process that calls for the personal involvement of teachers with learners, so that the teacher can set an example, reprove and encourage, as well as communicate information.

Greetings 1,1-4

I. Qualifications of church-leaders 1,5-9

II. The disorderly 1,10-16

III. The Christian life 2,1-15

IV. The call to do good 3,1-11

Final remarks 3,12-15

In the Bible "hope" does not mean to be uncertain but to look forward with confidence. The Christian is confident that God has given us eternal life and that the Lord is with us at all times.

Seeing good is an indication of being good, but even when a person looks for good in others should recognize evil.

The letter to the Hebrews

The OT revelation was a "shadow", a picture thrown on a screen. Christ is the reality, the One who throughout all times cast the shadows, which, in turn, revealed Him.

I. Jesus, the superior Word 1,1-3,13

II. Jesus, the superior High Priest 4,14-8,13

III. Jesus, the superior Sacrifice 9,1-10,39

IV. Jesus, the superior Sanctifier 11,1-13,25

How Jesus keeps God's promises

The picture The promise How Jesus keeps Verses the promise

Law God will make Jesus puts God's law 8,7-13

His people good in our hearts, not just on stone tablets

Sacrifice: God accepts the Jesus' one sacrifice 9,23-10,18 the death on the cross paid for.

High Priest: God will listen Jesus is our High Priest 4,14-5,10

Exact representation - the phrase does not mean that Jesus is a copy of God. The Greek words teach that Jesus is a perfect manifestation of God because He is God, Hebr 1,3.

How greatly God must love us to stoop so low in order to lift us up.

Made perfect - does not imply that Jesus was ever less than God. "Perfect" here is not a moral term, but instead indicates being equipped and qualified for a task. To become the source of our salvation, Jesus had to remain obedient as a human being to God the Father, despite what He suffered. Jesus lived such a life and was qualified by it to save you and me, Hebr 5,9, see also 2,10.

Disciplines those He loves - a person who punishes us is angry and intent on making us pay for past failures. A person who disciplines us loves us and wants to help us do right in the future. The passage notes that whether or not we profit from discipline depends on how we respond to it, Hebr 12.

Obey your (church) leaders and be under their authority - be responsive to those God gives to guide you, and remain open to their persuasion, Hebr 13,17.

Letters of encouragement

Others besides Paul wrote letters which have become part of the NT. These letters are called the "general letters", in part, because they are not directed to any specific church but to Christians in general. James; 1 and 2 Peter; 1;2 and 3 John and Jude.

Letters of the Apostle John

John himself settled in Ephesus, where he lived the last 35 years of his life, except when travelling to nearby cities in Asia Minor.

John uses key words:

"Truth" - harmony of one's life with reality;

"Light" - is God's own understanding and revelation of reality;

"Love" - is not a feeling but a commitment. Love for God is expressed by obedience to His Word. Love for others is expressed in practical ways too, in helping those in need and welcoming them into caring, sharing relationships.

1 John

Invitation to share joy 1,1-4

I. By walking in light 1,5-2,29

II. By walking in love 3,4-19

III. By walking with faith 5,1-21

Without sin - walking in the light is not sinelessness, for no one is without sin. This phrase means being honest about our failures and coming immediately to confess sins to God so they can be forgiven, 1 Jn 1,8.

The True Christian's only "unforgivable sin" is the sin we refuse to confess.

Confess - the call to confession reminds us that we need to be totally honest with God and ourselves about our sins. When we continue to confess, God not only forgives, but He keeps on cleansing us and making us pure. Accepting forgiveness is the first, vital step toward change, 1 Jn 1,9.

The Christian's values and attitudes are to be dramatically different from those of the non-Christian.

Antichrist - the spirit of the antichrist entered the world. The working of this spirit prepares the coming of the Antichrist.

No one born of God will go on sinning - that is, not make a lifelong habit of sin, 1 Jn 3,9-10.

Acknowledging Jesus as the Son of God - means more than saying words. It means committing ourselves to obey Christ and to confess our faith in Him, 1 Jn 4,15.

Jude

Jude is the brother of the James who led the Jerusalem Church and, thus, a relative of Jesus.

Greeting 1-2

I. False teachers described 3-7

II. False teachers' behavior 8-10

III. False teachers' motives 11-16

IV. Resisting false teachers 17-23

Praise to God 24-27

The other letters of John and James, see Introduction to the Bible.

Revealing things to come

Revelation

Revelation is the last book in the NT. It is the only prophetic book in the NT, containing visions which God gave to the Apostle John, the last living Apostle.

The book of Revelation is a type of literature known as apocalyptic. "Apocalypse", a Greek word, means an "uncovering" or a "disclosure".

There are several apocalyptic sections in the OT, Ezekiel 38-39; Daniel 2;7;8, etc.

Message of Revelation:

Jesus is always with His people and hears their cries and prayers;

All worship is due to the Father and Jesus the Son;

The importance of the faithfulness and perseverance of God's people is emphasized;

Satan and the forces of evil are doomed;

The final triumph of the Church is certain;

God's justice is sure.

I. John's vision of Christ 1,1-19

II. Letters to the seven churches 2,1-3,22

III. Visions

A. Visions of heavens 4,1-5,14

B. Seven seals, trumpets and bowls 6,1-16,21

C. Fall of Babylon 17,1-19,21

IV. Judgment of the lost 20,1-15

V. Visions of heaven 21,1-22,21

A vision of hell

Revelation 20

The only person who can condemn you is you, by your refusal to respond to the Good News of God's love and refusing to obey Jesus as Savior and Lord.

Come, Lord Jesus

Revelation 22,17

"Yes, I am coming soon", Rev 22,20.

2. "Non-Christian Sects" - continuation of Church 1/VI.

An other survey of the Occult:

In dealing with occult related activities the Bible enumerates many aspects and modes of practice. They all broadly fall into six areas:

- Beliefs and practices related to stars, moon, sun, etc. Compare Deut 4,19;17,2-6; 2 Ki 23,5; Is 47,13-15; Jer 8,2; Dan 1,20;2,2-27;4,7;5,7-15; Zeph 1,4-6.

See also Ps 19; Col 1,15-17; Hebr 1,2-3; Jn 16,13-15.

- Beliefs and practices to gain specific knowledge. See Lev 19,26.31; Num 23,23; Deut 18,9-14; 2 Ki 17,17; 2 Chr 33,6; Is 2,6; Jer 14,14;27,9;29,8-9; Ez 12,24;13,6-11;21,21-23; Dan 2,27;4,7;5,7-11; Hos 4,12; Mi 5,12; Zech 10,2; Acts 8,9-11;16,16-18.

See also Jn 14,6;15,26;16,14; Rom 1,16-32; 1 Cor 1,18-25.

- Beliefs and practices seeking to control, change, prevent, bring into being: Persons, circumstances, events, reality - by other than natural means. See Ex 7,11-12;22,18; Lev 19,26;20,6; Deut 18,10-14; 1 Sam 15,23; 2 Ki 9,22;17,17; 2 Chr 33,6; Is 47,8-14;57,3; Dan 2,2; Mi 5,12-15; Nah 3,4-7; Mal 3,5; Acts 8,9-22; Gal 5,16-26; Rev 18,23.

See also Mt 28,18-20; Jn 16,33; Phil 4,11-13; 1 Jn 5,4-5; Acts 1,8.

- Beliefs and practices related to spirits and the dead. See Lev 19,31;20,6; Deut 18,11; 1 Sam 28,3-25; 2 Ki 17,17;21,6;23,24; 1 Chr 10,13; 2 Chr 33,6; Is 8,19-20;19,3; Lk 16,19-31.

- The influence and activity of Satan. See Jb 1,6-12;2,1-9; Mt 13,39; Lk 8,12; 22,3-6; Jn 8,42-47; 2 Cor 4,4;11,14; Eph 2,2;6,12; 1 Pe 5,8; Rev 12,9.

See also 2 Cor 10,3-5; Eph 4,27;6,10-18; 2 Tim 3,12-4,5; Jas 4,7; 1 Pe 5,8-11.

- The influence and activity of demons. See Mt 4,24;7,22;8,16;10,8;12,22-28;15,22;17,8; Mk 1,32;5,1-20;7,26-30;9,17-29;16,17; Lk 4,33-35;8,29;9,1;10,17; Acts 19,13; Rom 8,38; 1 Cor 10,20-21; 1 Tim 4,1; Jas 2,19; Rev 9,20;16,14.

Rudolf Steiner and the Anthroposophical Society

Steiner, born in Austria in 1861, became a Theosophist* and headed a German division of the Theosophical Society, which was chartered in 1902. After publishing his Spiritual Hierarchies in 1909, Steiner split with Theosophy over its growing emphasis on Eastern religious philosophy. His philosophy then became Anthroposophy (from anthropos, "mankind", and sophia, "wisdom" -"the wisdom of man"), a "spiritual science", a so called form of "true Christianity", which was also called "Christian Occultism".

* Theosophy is a philosophical or religious system that claims to have a special knowledge of the nature of God and the world through mystical insight.

To a great extent a syncretist, Steiner built up an intricate system of beliefs from a co-mingling of other sources. Spiritual, metaphysical, and scientific concepts were acceptable, so long as they fitted into his overall scheme. Thus, in his cosmology, there is room for "Christian" angels (not, however, in the biblical mode, but a la Steiner - invisible "elemental" spirits), the Hindu chakra system (with Steineresque variations), and scientific theories (evolution and the development of the universe from an initial gaseous state).

Whatever "science" Steiner appropriated, was re-worked to fit his highly individual brand of esoteric philosophy. For instance, in so called scientific circles, Darwinian evolutionism involves the idea that higher forms of life evolved from less complex forms by natural and sexual selection, mutation, and survival of those best fitted to the environment. For Anthroposophy, in contrast, evolution is presided over by spiritual beings who mould and form man and guide him in the progressive opening of his consciousness. So, though a theory of evolution plays a central role in Steiner's thoughts, it is clearly not the Darwinian model.

Borrowing heavily from a variety of mystical traditions, Steiner theorized, as mentioned above, that Man and Earth are embarked on a progressive evolutionary journey overseen by certain beings of the "super sensible" spirit world.

Reincarnation, karma, chakras, and meditation are all concepts of his system which propose that human perfection comes through evolutionary cycles, the current stage being its fourth reincarnation.

From his writings in more than 100 books, Steiner imaginatively developed a complex history of mankind, including the mythology of Atlantis.

It is also his claim to have received his knowledge of "Spiritual Science", or Anthroposophy, from his efforts at clairvoyance, or as he called it, "supersensible perception". Using meditation techniques, Steiner claimed to have had super sensible perception of the other and earlier worlds, to know man's true origin and destiny, and to have discovered the "path of knowledge" by which the wisdom of man and the universe is attained.

Whatever genuine psychic sensitivity Steiner may have possessed, however, it is plain that the greatest portion of his philosophy did not originate with him or his experience. In reality, he drew his concepts from every conceivable source, many of which can be clearly traced.

Steiner developed his own views of evolution, natural organization, and science through confrontation with ideas of Darwin, Haeckel, Nietzsche, and contemporary German philosophies.

During his years of formal education, he was drawn to the ideas of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the German poet, pantheist, novelist and "scientist".

The "Fall"- a complex mythology based on the "war" between the spirits who lived on the Sun (the Sun Beings) and those who lived on the Moon (the Moon Beings). Man lived alternately in a state of devotion to the Sun Beings and under the influence of the Moon Beings - eventually the accent shifted from the devotion of the Sun Beings to the Moon Beings, thus causing the Fall. The ordinary consciousness we all normally experience is seen by Steiner to be an evil result of the Fall.

The Christ of Anthroposophy

Steiner's style of occultism presents a challenge to Christianity in a way that many occult systems do not, in that it represents itself to be completely Christ-centered. Steiner himself referred to his movement as "true Christianity" and "Christian Occultism", while several Anthroposophical locals currently use the name "Christian Occult Society".

Unfortunately, the Christ that Steiner glorifies is not the Jesus of reality - the Anthropomorphically Christ is fundamentally unbiblical and sub-Christian.

According to Steiner, Jesus of Nazareth was just an ordinary man until, at age 30, he received the Christ-Essence during His baptism at the Jordan. Further we read that there were really two Jesuses one of whom was a reincarnation of Zarathustra (or Zoroaster) the Persian (founder of this religion – 6/7 B.C.), the other being a human whose body was specially prepared by the Spiritual Beings (among which was the spirit of Gautama Buddha). At the age of 12, these two Jesuses spiritually merged, the ego of Zarathustra passing into the pure, empty being of Jesus of Nazareth. Then, at the age of 30, Zarathustra's ego departed from Jesus of Nazareth and the Christ-Essence entered in at his baptism.

This concept of the "bifurcated Christ" is typical of those pantheistic and occult/mystical systems which make some attempt to deal with the historical and biblical reality of Jesus.

Equally gnostic (claimed superior knowledge of spiritual matters) is Anthroposophy's understanding of the resurrection, which is seen as an essentially spiritual event. What rose from the grave on that Easter morning was not the glorified body of Christ but a nebulous spiritual entity which Steiner calls the "Phantom".

Mary Magdalene, and all those who saw Christ after the resurrection, saw Him clairvoyantly. The same conditions apply today, and if anyone wishes to apprehend the mystery of Christ deeply and fully, and partake of the power and promise of the resurrection, he must do so through the practice of meditation, by which means he will gain entrance to the supernatural worlds.

Though Anthroposophists consider the Bible to be a valuable document for acquiring secret knowledge, their main focus of attention is on Steiner's works, which assume an authoritative capacity which effectively supersede Scripture. By meditating on Steiner's works, the acolyte becomes capable of mediumistically communicating with initiates and departed beings of the spirit world.

Other concepts of Anthroposophy include: Eurythmy, a form of rhythmic movement; and the founding of Waldorf Schools dedicated to awakening the spiritual consciousness in children.

Though Steiner taught that a form of mystical Christianity replaced the outdated Eastern religions, his syncretistic result was an occult system more attuned to Spiritualism than the Good News.

Rudolf Steiner was unquestionably an intelligent, articulate man whose perception of Christ as the "Lord of Karma" was clouded by his own subjective interpretation of occult phenomena.

Dornach (near Basel), Switzerland, is the current world headquarters of Anthroposophy.

3. The End-Time Church is a "House Church" and can be established only by an Apostle or his delegates.

See also "Church of Christ - People of God on the Way"; Appendix.

Different suggestions and comments:

The Lord's Supper was enjoyed (celebrated) by the Early Christians within the framework of a House Church.

They had "fellowship" as well as "breaking of Bread".

The part of the service which is reserved for the Eucharist, can only be attended by baptized members of the Church. (See The Teaching of the Church of Jesus the Christ)

The House Church is an integral part (a cell) of the Apostolic Catholic Church, led by the Apostles. It has to reflect, at least when fully developed, all the essential characteristics of the Apostolic Universal (Catholic) Church:

The members of this Church throughout the world share the same faith - so also the members of the Cell, the House Church;

Christian love is the most fundamental quality of the Church in all its manifestations. "By this all shall know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another", Jn 13,35;

Worship is an essential element of the worldwide Apostolic Catholic Church;

The Church is missionary - she reaches out to people;

The Church is prophetic - she prepares the way of the Coming;

We are a Church of servants!

The Church must frequently renew herself - the House Church also;

She is the total commitment or the total giving of herself to Christ which the members undertake.

The Church in the house is always an organic part of the parish. The "parish" of the End Time Church is not a building but rather a group of House Churches gathering, in certain times, for common worship.

The regular "breaking of the Bread" can be done in each individual House Church.

Many of these organizational arrangements will depend on a number+ of things, for instance, on the number of House Churches existing in close proximity, on the cultural and social environment, on the political situation, etc. Whatever is decided, should be the result of dialogue with the Apostle or his local representative.

The leaders of the Church (House Church also) have to be trained (they will then provide teaching for the members of the House Church). The training will be provided in ongoing seminars by teachers approved by the Apostles. It is an ongoing process!

Seminars should be provided continually on different subject matters.

The process of teaching begins with the Twelve. They have to meet and agree on all the teachings of the Church. After they have been sent out, they will teach and teach and teach. The teaching has to be extended to every member of the Church especially the leaders (including the Charismatic Office Bearers). Denominational and other "filters" have to be removed to enable the unrestrained work of the Holy Spirit.

The "celebration of the Eucharist" should normally be done within the fellowship of believers. The "Clergyman" should offer the Great Sacrifice alone only under such circumstances where a fellowship is impossible. For instance, imprisonment, exile, or when he is travelling, or where there are no Christians (yet), etc.

The small group meeting as a House Church is the basic building block of the life of the Universal Church - this is so because we need to know others intimately in order to become the Church.

Children and the House Church:

One of the most important ways to touch the life of children is to let them become part of the House Church of which their parents are members.

Since the children are a regular part of the Home Church, they have also other models before them than those provided by their parents. They also learn the dynamics of what being in God's family means: Its responsibilities, its tensions and its struggles; the costs as well as the rewards.

Activities for the entire Church-group (involving children) can vary from singing, dancing, mime, playing an instrument, reading a story, reciting a poem, playing a game and a time of prayer with the children. It is good to spend time specifically with children at some point in the Home Church gathering.

The House Church should, from time to time, allocate other activities for the entire Church Family - games, visits to the cinema, picnics, common meals, etc.

Children contribute a great deal to the life of the Home Church: The simplicity of children's prayers, questions, observations and loving can be a profound experience and encouragement.

As the children enter primary years, they should remain longer in the group, entering more into the prayer, study and discussion. When they reach mid-teenage years, they will want to join in all that happens in the meeting, as part and parcel of their desire to join the adult world.

One of the biggest contributions a Home Church has to make to teenagers is the quality of relationships with adults and other children. These relationships are nurtured not only within the Home Church meeting but outside it; through simply spending time together - operating as it does in an extended Christian family.

Only in the House Church can we actually fulfill such injunctions as: "Love one another earnestly from the heart", 1 Pe 1,22; "Care for one another", 1 Cor 12,25; "Bear one another's burdens", Gal 6,2.

In the Home Church, we can get to know and take an interest in a group of people who will also get to know and take an interest in us. In such a group we can, in time, take off the masks we wear and begin to share our weaknesses, doubts and fears as well as our strengths, certainties and abilities.

All this requires commitment!

Shortage of time?

If the House Church receives only your second-best attention - it will only ever be second-best in character. Second-best attention means second-best results. Priorities have to be re-arranged!

The meetings of the Home Church should take people's other commitments into account, but this does not mean that attending Home Church merely fits in after everything else.

The House Church will only fulfil its God-intended potential if it is the central activity in the lives of (at least) the majority of its members.

Some fundamental factors:

Every House Church has to be integrated into the Apostolic Catholic Church and function, directly or indirectly, under the authority of an Apostle.

It is necessary to share in a common life to be part of the Christian family, based on commitment to one another and to God.

We are not merely talking about a broader range of common activities, for example, studying, celebrating the Lord's Supper, etc., but also a deliberate choice to pursue a common life - the House Church is infinitely more than a Bible-study group, a discussion- or study-circle, etc. it IS Church; a living Cell in the Body of Christ.

Not everyone in the group will immediately have (or needs to have) this depth of commitment. This means that the Home Church is able to include, even invite, others who may come to it initially without such commitment. These remarks imply the need for a core group. This core group will make the expressed necessary commitment to one another under God.

Just as every individual needs time for growth, so also will a group only gradually become a House Church.

It is important to remember that only through death does new life come; "Resurrection" only takes place if a person or group is willing to carry the Cross.

Healthy openness:

One of the best ways of helping people to open up is to do it oneself.

Every House Church will receive regular visits from other House Churches. There could be times when a visit from the Charismatic- and other Office bearers could (should) be requested - e.g. for counseling, helping in certain matters, encouraging, etc.

A number of House Churches may (should) decide to provide a full or part-time living for a Charismatic- or Ordained Office bearer (who should also have a civil profession). He will fully serve the Church - local and/or universal. However, most of the ordained and charismatic leaders of the Church will have their civil profession and work for the Church (Divine Services, seminars, spiritual counseling, etc.) part-time. Most of the churches will not be in the position to have a full time clergyman and we also have to look to the time when the Church will have to go under-ground and a full time ministry will become impossible.

Discussions within the group:

Any discussion should be with the intention of seeking the mind of the Spirit.

The House Church is made up of People who are imperfect and perhaps immature:

Only a fellowship which faces disillusionment, with its unhappy aspects, begins to be what it should be in God's sight and begins to grasp in faith the promise that is given to it (see Jn 14,27).

God will not permit His People to live in a dream world - the reality is that we are all sinners!

At this point another distinction becomes useful: The distinction between expectations and hopes - hope does not insist on its own way, but recognizes that people at times are bound to fail.

We are all in different stages of our spiritual walk - the House Church also. We have to distinguish between the general calling of Christ and the specific stage we are at in our personal pilgrimage.

What God asks of us is not to be people who have "arrived", who have all the answers, but to be the people who are learning to love Him and each other, who will be people who are not afraid to ask for forgiveness; who seek to grow.

As we are "becoming", our children are also allowed to share our pilgrimage. They learn that the Christian life is not necessarily a straight line affair, but very much an up and down matter, full of doubts, despair and uncertainty as well as confidence, joy and assurance.

A House Church begins its ministry to the children through ministering to their parents.

A House Church also ministers to children, prior to their birth, through its prayers and other practical help. After the birth, it welcomes the child into the Church in some tangible way e.g. by blessing the baby and its parents.

When a community welcomes people who have been on the margin of society,

things usually go quite well to begin with. Then, for many reasons, these people start to become marginal in the House Church too.

There is something prophetic in people who seem marginal and difficult; they force the Church to become alert, because what they are demanding is authenticity - love is practical.

Women in the House Church:

Women are generally more pastorally aware and active than men, and better able to share in the meetings. Their manifold talents and gifts should be utilized.

The Hose Church in the Community:

The Church has to nurture a genuine community life as a "signpost" to the Coming Kingdom of Christ and has to become a visible "bridge" between the present and future.

The Church and Christians exist primarily for others and for mission to them.

Within the House Church:

The members need to build up one another into the likeness of God in Christ - through fellowship with God and with one another.

The more we build one another up in Church, the more effective we are in mission.

The more we engage in mission, the more we broaden the vision and deepen the fellowship of those in our church.

At first the House Church will place more emphasis on the "inner-mission" - building and developing the relationships with one another. Eventually, however, the subject of evangelism has to move to the forefront of concern.

The whole of life is to be brought in contact with the Gospel.

After the example of Jesus we should be seeking out the needy and the marginalized.

Evangelizing:

Paul's method was to work from a "hot center". This would mean an evangelist moving into an area and setting up a home. He would work from that center. Through contact and a holistic (all-round) ministry, he may find people who are willing to meet him in either his home or theirs. This would be a teaching, caring community time.

This approach may still be applicable to the so called Third World Countries. Former Communist countries may need this and the method described below - a combination of the two.

In our Western Society, the direct approach often has no great promise, because the de-religionising of vast sectors of people in our modern society has deep-seated and long-range historical causes. The indirect approach, by really being communities of mutual encouragement, witness and service and building genuine Christian cells in the desert of modern life, is the one we must follow...the world wants to see redemption. It is not interested in it being talked about.

The creation of Christian Communities is the most radical action one can ever experience, especially if it involves breaking down social barriers, proclaiming liberty to the captives and establishing justice. It is the coming to concrete reality of a new life that will not only show what is wrong with the old, but point so clearly to the New which is Coming that the old can no longer command anyone's loyalty and devotion...We demonstrate what salvation means.

Social responsibility:

The Home Church is well placed to identify the particular needs of people in the street and to strive to alleviate them.

This responsibility is naturally extended to all the members of the Church - bodily, materially, mentally and spiritually.

The God of the Bible is calling Christians today to live in fundamental nonconformity to the existing society - the Church must form a lifestyle for Christians in an Age of Hunger.

The Church community which lives simply and without waste, helps people to discover a whole new way of life, which demands fewer financial resources but more commitment to relationships.

The House Church - the strongest organizational unit in the world's history would appear to be that which we call a cell; for it is a remorseless self-multiplier; it is exceptionally difficult to destroy; it can preserve its intensity of local life while vast organizations quickly wither when they are weakened at the center; it can defy the power of governments; and it is the appropriate lever for piercing open any status quo.

Such "Cells" survived Communism and other oppressions - they will also successfully function in the future.

My visions encourage us to "ordain" many to enable the House Churches to continue their sacramental existence in perilous times.

Some additional advice:

For the most part, discipline goes on in a House Church in a quiet, unobtrusive, unspoken way. It takes place, often without anyone realizing it, through the words of a hymn, the reading of a Scripture, the message of a study and through thoughtful action and example of others and through prophetic messages.

Disciplining in serious matters is the task of the leaders of the Church. They will carry it out according to Biblical principles, see Mt 18,15-17.

We cannot compartmentalize our lives - in the Early Church, the worship of God was something that characterized the people's entire lives, wherever they were and whatever they were doing, see Rom 12,1-2. The key elements in their meetings were "service" and "edification", i.e. they were to minister to one another and God in all that they did or said, so as to build one another up into a genuine community and into Christ Himself, Eph 4,11f.

Life in the End-Time-Church is a life in subordination. Everybody is subordinated to someone: The House Church member to his/her House Church leader; he to his Bishop; the Bishop to his Apostle; the Apostle to the College of the Apostles and this Divine Institution to its founder, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

Every member should have a spiritual advisor.

The Holy Spirit is the Living Spirit of this entire organization - He animates it, gives His divine guidance and connects every individual member to the Lord and to one-another.

4. Thoughts on the Universe

TIME is an inseparable function of mechanical motion and interaction. Stand all matter comprising the universe absolutely still, resulting in an absence of relative motion, who could tell what time of the day it is? Time would not exist. Something has to move through space relative to a fixed known object in space to produce the effect of time. How quickly time passes is determined by the rate or speed of this mechanical interaction.

Indeed, SPACE is the effect produced by this relative motion. Thus everything must undergo change or flux. If stood still, all MATTER would not appear to exist either, because matter requires motion to produce a mechanical interaction, or a happening, something we can observe directly, such as light, gravity, magnetism and indirectly, atomic/sub-atomic forces.

INFINITY has no size, shape or physical dimension and so is not limited in any way. It does not occupy space and so cannot be observed or measured. It has no past or future, but rather a timeless "present", or eternity.

ETERNITY is the absence of time, not simply a great deal of time. Infinity cannot be confined to any one place at a time like matter, but rather is "everywhere" at all times, or omnipresent. Its "present" is our past, our present and our future simultaneously.

The FINITE universe and its parts cannot be physically infinite and will never attain this status. Its laws and itself could not of "just" happened - it had to be CREATED.

The planning and execution of the FINITE universe must of "happened" through INFINITY. INFINITY "knows" everything it is possible to know within space-time as well as the impossible which lies outside our space-time province. INFINITY created matter and used the process of cosmic and organic "unfolding"* to finally create intelligent life - this requires a stupendously superior intelligence of planning and design. We have a name for this omnipotent, omnipresent Intellect - we call Him GOD.

* Unfolding is not = evolution. The "processes" God used are unknown to us.

5. Thoughts to consider

We are all frail but see you think no one more frail than yourself.

- Why are we so willing to talk and discourse with one another, since we seldom return to silence without having stained our conscience?

- As often as I have been among men, I have returned less a man.

- Man proposes, but God disposes; nor is the way of man in his own hands.

- He that does not shun small defects falls little by little into greater.

- Jesus has many lovers of His heavenly Kingdom but few bearers of His cross.

- Speak, O Lord, for Your servant hears, for You have the words of eternal life.

- If I am left to myself, behold, I am nothing and all weakness, but if Jesus should graciously look upon me, I presently become strong and am filled with a new Joy.

- Would that I were able, were it but for one day, to serve You Lord worthily!

- Give me Lord fortitude that I may stand my ground, patience that I may endure, and constancy that I may persevere.

- If you walk interiorly, you will make small account of flying words from without.

- Forsake all and you shall find all; leave your desires and you shall find rest.

- Trust not to your feelings; whatever it may be now it will be quickly changed into another.

- A man's true progress consists in denying himself.

- The Holy Spirit says: "I teach without noise of words, without confusion of opinions, without ambitions of honor, without contention of arguments."

- We are but men, and no other indeed than frail men, although by many we might be esteemed and called angels.

- The perfect victory is to triumph over one's self.

- To will is present with me, but to accomplish that which is good, I find not.

- The Lord says: "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Without the Way there is no going, without the Truth there is no knowing, without the Life there is no living."

- I had rather be poor for Your sake, Lord, than rich without You.

- Lord! Behold You bow Yourself down to me who am not worthy to look up to You.

- Give yourself to Me and it is enough, for without You, Lord, no comfort is of any avail.

- The Eucharist: This most high and most excellent sacrament is the health of soul and body, the remedy of all spiritual diseases.

- God often gives in one short moment what He has for a long time denied.

- Blessed is that simplicity which leaves the difficult ways of questions and walks on in the plain and sure path of God's commandments.

- Lord, I want what You want, because You want it, as You want it, and as long as You want it.

- "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search it out" (Prov 25,2).

- If all were perfect, what then should we have to bear with from others for God's love?

But now God has so disposed things that we may learn "to bear one another's burdens" (Gal 6,2); for there is no man without defect; no man without his burden; no man sufficient for himself...but we must bear with one another; comfort one another; assist, instruct and admonish one another.

- Permit us not, Lord, to yield to our feelings, but grant we may sacrifice them for the happiness of pleasing you.

- Jesus must be preached as Savior AND Lord.

- The future servants of the Lord: Some of them will have been dragged through the dregs of human sin, trauma and despair before they are awakened. They will love much because they were forgiven much and delivered of much.

- Between each great move of God there is a period of quietness in which there appears to be little happening.

- "For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power" (1 Cor 4,20).

- A large number who are now considered Christians have never been led to the Lord. They may have been led to a church, to a personality, to a doctrine...

- The prophet is "the eye of the body" (Is 29,10).

- The control spirit seeks to get Christian leaders to overstep their authority...the political spirit tries to get Christian leaders to submit more to the pressures of the people.

- One becomes a false teacher, a false prophet... when he tries to walk in a ministry to which he has not been ordained by God.

- Many are called but not empowered.

- There will be tares sown among the wheat, but there would be no counterfeit if that which is true did not also exist. There would be no counterfeit money if there was no true money. There are false signs of the enemy because there are real signs and wonders.

- "The gifts and callings of God are irrevocable" (Rom 11,29).

- The Lord told us to judge by fruit and not gifts.

- Gifts are given, but fruit must be grown.

- The early Church began in a place of light and regressed into darkness. The last day Church is coming out of darkness and will progress toward increasing light.

- A power and authority is about to be given to some which will exceed all precedents (This is to fulfill the Lord's promise: see Jn 14,12).

- Our goal is more than just to know the Book of the Lord (the Bible); it is to know the Lord of the Book.

- When the apostle-authority is commissioned, it will signal the end of the transition-stage of our travail. Then the final stage, which results in the birth of the end-time ministry, will commence.

- All things are to be summed up in Jesus as He IS the complete Purpose of God.

- Just as light concentrated becomes awesome power in the laser, the focus of our attention upon the Lord Himself will result in the power being released in the Church to accomplish her end-time mandate.

- The Church will be increasing in light and power; the world will be sinking into unprecedented darkness.

- The Lord wants every (new) convert properly cared for and equipped for their own purpose. Every believer is called to ministry, and every single one is needed.

- One of the primary vehicle for the equipping of the saints will be the institution of home groups as a foundational structure of the Church.

- When Jesus ascended and gave gifts to the saints, He was in fact giving Himself to them.

- The release of gifts and ministries in the Church is simply the release of the Lord Himself into our midst.

- The fundamental purpose of the Kingdom of God is synthesis: The joining together to form one whole. But we must understand that this synthesis will never be accomplished through human agency; it can come only by the Holy Spirit.

- There has been a fundamental deception promulgated throughout the churches which has tried to focus our attention on who we are in Christ instead of Who He is in us. We do need to know who we are in Him, but when that becomes our emphasis, we will never become who He has called us to be.

- Christianity is not a formula, it is a relationship with Christ. The Church is not the pattern for the Church; Jesus is the pattern for the Church.

- There will not be one who can stand in what is coming except by God's grace - He will give us His power and wisdom.

- God's judgment, which comes also in the forms of crisis, works in the Church and in every believer's life continually.

- Problems we have in life is meant to move us toward the true grace and power of God.

- Those who know the word of the Lord will not be saved by that knowledge - many know the truth, but not many come to know Jesus as their LIFE.

- The Truth is not an acknowledgment of certain biblical and spiritual facts - Truth is a Person: It is Christ.

- Christianity is not an assimilation of or agreement with certain principles and facts - it is a relationship with Jesus.

- The Only escape from the judgment is to be found in Christ.

- Jesus purchased us with His blood that "we who live should no longer live for ourselves but for him" (2 Cor 5,15). Anything less than this is idolatry.

- "You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God" (Jas 4,4).

- If the Church would walk in the light, the world would not be living in such darkness.

- Many of the good works being accomplished by the churches truly are good works - they just are not the works that we have been called to.

- It was Johna's rebellion that brought the storm upon the heathen in the ship; the church's rebellion is the reason for many of the storms that are bringing much of the judgment upon the world today.

- The Church is impacted more by the world than she is impacted the Word. We must remove the ungodly influences from the Church before she will have authority against ungodliness.

- God's love is not the "sloppy agape" we have pretended it to be. When we give approval to the things which God disapproves of, it is unsanctified mercy, and it will bring judgment upon the whole house.

- Having a ship in the sea is fine, but when the sea gets in the ship, we have a problem!

- God is not going to judge just by how much darkness there is, but also by how much light has been rejected.

- Everything that can be shaken, will be shaken: Of the works that were done in the Lord's name but not by His commission - not one stone will be left upon another.

- There is a great difference between the calling of God to ministry and the commissioning to that ministry. Paul was called by Jesus as an apostle many years before he was commissioned by the Holy Spirit. The time between the calling and the commissioning is crucial for the proper preparation required for the ministry. As Paul explained: "When he who had set me apart from my mother's womb, and called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son IN me (not just to me), that I might preach..." (Gal 1,15-16). Preparation is not just learning more about Him, or even His ways; it is having Jesus manifested IN us.

- Anyone may teach about God's love, but only those who have laid down their lives with Him can impart that love.

- Anyone can teach truths but only those who have given their lives in search of it can impart a love for the truth, which is the essence of the true teaching ministry.

- The ability of the Apostle to impart life can only be attained by taking up the cross daily, following Him.

- An idol is not just a graven image, but it is anything that the people trust in place of the One true God.

- If it is the people from whom we derive our authority they will be the ones who rule, not God.

- The Church has tended to confuse the need to be a witness to men and loving them with the compulsion to find her approval from men. This has been one of the most corrupting delusion sapping the Church's ability to walk in true spiritual authority.

- The exclamation that Paul was turning the world upside down (see Acts 17,6) was an accurate comprehension of the power of apostolic preaching. This preaching will shake the powers above and on earth and it will also solicit their most vehement wrath.

- Freedom from the fear of man and demon is a prerequisite for true ministry.

- The compulsion to have the acceptance of men erodes our faith as well as the message of the Gospel.

- Spiritual authority demands freedom from the fear of man, but this freedom must be salted with the wisdom to avoid being unnecessarily offensive; see 1 Cor 9,19-20: These compromises are made for love's sake, not fear, or self-seeking.

- "Have I not seen the Lord?" (1 Cor 9,1) is another primary prerequisite for true spiritual authority.

- Good is the worst enemy of the best.

- There is a war going on between flesh and spirit that is being waged in every Christian institution and every Christian.

- Self-seeking will always lead us to build that which God is not doing.

- We must distinguish between the things which God blesses and those which He "inhabits", "possesses": He blessed Ishmael because of the covenant with Abraham; but Isaac was His.

- If we want to be a part of the "promised seed", truth or ministry, we must distinguish between that which is blessed by God and that which is chosen (see Mt 22,14).

- While Saul enjoyed the blessing, David appeared cursed, and so it usually is until the appointed time.

- One of satan's most effective strategies has been (and still is) to get the Church to worship the things of God in place of God. He has succeeded in getting the Church to worship the Church, the Bible, etc.

- The Bible is a gift of immeasurable value, but it is not knowing the Book of the Lord that should be our goal, but knowing the Lord of the Book.

- In Israel, some of the most evil, and even the demon possessed, bowed the knee to Jesus. It was the most upstanding citizens who crucified Him.

- Man's goodness is offered as a compensation for righteousness and is therefore an affront and an enemy of the cross.

- Man's goodness is a filthy rags in the sight of God and is a formidable enemy to the Gospel.

- Some of the ministers who will bring the greatest life to the Church in the days to come will be those who have made the greatest mistakes in the past. It is a biblical and historical reality that many fail so totally that they come to the end of all human effort and strength before God will use them - humility comes before exaltation.

- Even correct doctrine will be carried to extremes when it becomes an end instead of a means.

- The early Church did not have community because they did things in a certain way but because God was moving in their midst. When God is moving truth becomes life.

- Christianity is not just a system of truths and principles, is a relationship with the living God.

- Those who are wrong but have humility can be corrected. Those who are right but proud usually end up doing more damage to the Church and the cause of Christ than many false teachers.

- There are many "lone rangers" causing confusion in the Body of Christ.

- The Church is not an end but a means.

- The end of all things is to be summoned up in Christ.

- The Church is not the pattern for the Church; Jesus is the pattern for the Church.

- The whole purpose of God for His People is that they be conformed to the image of His Son. We do not become the Church in order to do this; we become the Church when we have done (reached) this.

- The moral, ethical and heretical problems arising from the Church are not because there is not enough submission to the Body (this too), but because there is not enough submission to the Head.

- It is possible to have all of our doctrines in perfect order without having life.

- Jesus is Truth, and those who love Him love truth.

- Those who are taught about God are never satisfied. Those who are taught to love God and seek Him will have a river of living water flowing out of their own innermost being.

- We begin to see the truth...we know it is needed...so we move out to establish it before the proper time, or before it is mature enough - we have to be called AND commissioned to do this!

- Man's provision must always die before God's provision can take its place.

- Those who joined themselves to David in the cave were misfits in Israel, as is often true with those who are first to receive God's truths. But the "caves transformed" them along with David - they became the greatest warriors..!

- Human reasoning would never lead us to a stable to find God. This has not changed. That which has been born of God is usually found in a place that is unacceptable to pride and presumption of carnal men (see 1 Cor 1,27-29).

- The Gospel is foolishness to the natural man and always will be. It will never attract those who live by human wisdom.

- The birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus put the ax to the root of the tree of human wisdom and pride, which is the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. When we embellish the Gospel to make it appeal to carnal men, we destroy its power to set them free and we ourselves begin to drift from the path of life. For this reason Paul preached nothing but Christ and Him crucified. He knew that if one were compelled to come by any other message it would be a false conversion.

- One of the reasons for much of the powerlessness of the Church today is that we have converted men to the Church, to our doctrines, projects, etc. but not Christ Himself. We do this because the true Gospel seems too offensive. We feel that the raw truth of the Gospel is doomed to be rejected as foolishness, which is precisely the very power of its message. It is meant to be rejected by those who do not love the truth more than their pride.

- It does not matter how tearfully someone talks about the cross, if we are not living it... it is not our message.

- Self promotion was the original temptation and it is still one of the most effective in rendering the Church and her Gospel powerless in bringing about true conversion and true rebirth - the establishment of the Charismatic Offices will change all this.

- To some of the most meek and humble servants a sword will be given that will soon bring to an end the futile works of unbroken religious impostors.

- Don't be discouraged if you don't YET see the fruit; look for the seed that will become the fruit.

- Those who find Jesus will no longer care about being known or accepted by men - they will only want to be known by Him.

- The Lord's determination to send those who are unacceptable according to the world's standards is a judgment against the world's pride and rebellion. Because the Church became a part of the world, she has to repent, otherwise she will partake in the world's judgment.

- Human goodness is motivated by self-righteousness and self-promotion.

- The ministers of the End-Time Church will not seek attention for themselves, or their ministries, but for the One who sent them!

- In the end, everyone will quit except for those in love.

- Deception is not just misunderstanding truth, it is not being in His will, it is not doing what God called us to do, which is first and foremost, to abide in Him.

- An important emphasis in the Church will be humility.

- True humility is not insecurity; true humility is simply understanding who God is. True humility has its attention on God.

- It is easy to know all about the Lord and still not know Him.

- The enemy's strategy of humiliating the saints into retreat will actually work to purify the ranks and inculcate in the faithful an even greater resolve.

- The Lord is allowing the onslaught to deliver His people from the fear of man.

- The grace of God, purchased by the blood of Jesus, is the most powerful and irresistible force in all of creation.

- Through all of her trials the Church is going to be so cast upon the grace of God and the power of the cross that she will walk in such power and demonstration of the Spirit that the whole world will be shocked.

- We live in enemy territory, see 1 Jn 5,19.

- Persecution will separate the faithful from the false.

- It will require sacrifice to lead and only true servants will lay down their lives to make that sacrifice.

- The Lord can redeem even our greatest mistakes; the power of the cross to redeem is much greater than most of us perceive.

- We must distinguish between remorse and repentance - Judas felt remorse; Peter repented.

  • By trying to carry our own guilt, we "hang ourselves" - we are saying in effect that the cross was not adequate to pay for our sin and that we must pay for it ourselves.

- In the End-time Church, those who provide leadership will be under the greatest pressure and will need a generous measure of grace and mercy and support from those they serve.

- The Bible is a most wonderful and precious gift; it is God's personal letter to us. However, He never meant for it to take His place in our lives. The early Church did not have the Bible. Even so, we have not even come close to approaching the power of their faith. They were dependent on a living relationship with the Lord. Jesus did not say that when He went away He would leave us a book to lead us into all truth. He left His Church with the Charismatic Offices. He told His Apostles that He will send them the Holy Spirit and that they will be under His guidance - He will lead them into all truth.

- It is not just knowing the Book of the Lord that should be our goal, but knowing the Lord of the Book.

- It is not communism or, capitalism that is the enemy, but humanism.

- In Jesus' will tribulations are not obstacles.

- The time will come when the Lord will not continue tolerating self-serving and self-promoting leadership.

- Every attack against the End-time Church will result in an advance for the Gospel.

- We must not make baptism overly difficult, but we must come to trust the gift of discernment of spirits and we must insist on real conversion before admittance to the holy assembly. There is only one Door to the Church. We must insist that no one enter except through Jesus - the door is used to both let people in and to keep them out when necessary.

- The mark of the beast will be upon men's minds and works (forehead and hands). The literal mark will be the indication of that which the beast has already done in men's hearts, and those men will not refuse it even if they know what it is.

- Human goodness and righteousness kills if it is offered as a compensation for our evil conscience, replacing the cross and therefore Jesus as our Head and the Source of our life.

- The demons quickly acknowledged and bowed the knee to Jesus. It was the most religious and upstanding citizens who persecuted and crucified the Lord and His followers.

- The greatest persecution against the End-time Church will come from conservative people and their religious institutions.

- Some who call themselves Christians will consider it their duty to God and society to kill the true believers.

  • We need not fear demons; they fear us. However, me must be wary of the churches possessed with religious spirit.

- We must return good for evil praying for and witnessing to our enemies of the kindness of God that calls men to repentance.

- Every Christian is called to be a martyr whether it becomes a literal death or not.

- We are called to die daily.

- If we have truly been buried with Jesus in baptism then we are dead to the world. What can the world do to a dead man? It is impossible for a dead man to be offended, to feel rejected, or to fear death.

- "From the standpoint of the gospel they (the Jews) are enemies for your sake" (Rom 11,28): The Jewish mission to be enemies of the Gospel was one of the reasons for their dispersion to all nations - so that they would be there to confront and challenge the message wherever it was preached, in order to force its purity. The time of the end, when the Jews are again grafted into the Olive Tree, marks the end of this antithesis and the beginning of a synthesis, that is, Jews and Gentiles will march together under the banner of Jesus.

- The purposes* of the earthly (Israel) and heavenly (Church= Spiritual Israel) seeds of Abraham have set them on a collision course until now, so that neither can fulfill their calling without the other**.

* The original purpose of Israel was to prepare the way for the First Coming of the Messiah - Whom she did not accept; the spiritual seed of Abraham accepted Him and was committed to preach His Good News. The purpose of the Church is to prepare the Second Coming of Christ.

** See The Witness of the Times; P. 108 (...in the local synagogue).

- It is the consummation of the age when spiritual Israel and "natural" Israel become one in Christ.

- When the times of the Gentiles end it is the beginning of the times of the Jews and Gentiles.

- The Church and Israel are inseparably linked in the last day purposes of God and what happens in one will be reflected in the other (blessing, persecution, etc.)

- The Church's calling is to preach the Gospel, to the Jews first. There is no salvation outside of Christ and this must never be compromised.

- For millenniums (BC) God's purposes were centralized in His dealings with the Jews. Then for two millenniums (AD) His purpose was concentrated with the Church, which is the spiritual Israel (see Rom 2,29). See also Rom 11,15.

- Rom 11,25; The mystery: The preparation for the Millennial Kingdom of Christ, which is the preparation for the Heavenly Jerusalem, cannot take place but through the cooperation of the physical and spiritual Israel.

- The unity the Lord is seeking to bring about in His Church is not a unity of conformity but a unity of diversity.

- Those who are called are called because of their inadequacy, their foolishness and their weakness (see 1 Cor 1,26-29).

- The Church will not have any authority over Islam or any other strongholds until we begin to live by the light that the early Church has received.

- The Lord presently restraining impending disasters so that His people, His Church can get ready.

- The entire world system is near its end. But we don't have to go down with this ship because we don't have to be on it. The Lord will soon call us to board the ONLY ship which cannot sink - the End-time Church in which the Kingdom of God is present.

- The Lord will soon load His Lifeboat, see Hebr 4,7.

- So what do we do? Seek the Lord! We must seek Him because He is what we should do!

- Rapture... but not before tribulation. The whole Bible is a testimony of God's deliverance and victory through tribulation.

- We live in enemy territory, see 1 Jn 5,19.

- We must remain open to correction and more perfect understanding.

- "Keep yourselves in the love of God", see Jude 14-23.

- Those who are of the Spirit of Christ will keep themselves in the love of God, extending mercy and, like their Lord, living to intercede, not to accuse.

- If we have the true fear of the Lord we need not fear anything else.

- We can live in the Kingdom now by abiding in the King.

- Almost every great man of God in Scripture and history was only successful after passing through the fire of failure and defeat.

- Becoming overly cautious can be just as deadly as being overly confident.

- After we have done all that we could, we will still need the help of the Lord.

- The Lord is seeking givers who will become channels of His supply.

- "The just shall live by faith," not fear.

- The Lord's anointing will soon break our yokes!

- Jesus did not come to show us the way; He came to BE the Way. The Holy Spirit was not sent to give us guidance; He came to BE our Guide.

- We must seek the Lord, not for what we are to do, but because HE IS WHAT WE SHOULD DO. He is the Ark given for our salvation.

- In the days to come it will not matter too much what we know but Who we know and how well we know Him. As the Lord Himself exhorted us, we must not be ignorant of the signs of the times, but it is of far greater importance to know the One who is in control of all of these things and to be found doing His will.

- We must follow Jesus. We must each know Him for ourselves. We must each be intimate with Him. When Job lost everything but the Lord, he then understood that he didn't need anything but the Lord. Neither do we! He is everything that we need for these times and for all time!

- Man considers the actions, but God instead examines the intentions.

- To walk in recollection and united with God, and not to be held by any external affection, is the state of a spiritual man.

- The darkness of the soul is a sign of ensuing consolation.

- Learn to endure the want of all human consolation by placing all your hope and trust in God and in His friendship.

- The more a Christian progresses in spirit, the heavier crosses he will bear, because the pain of his exile increases in proportion to his love.

- Lord! Let me love You more than myself, and myself only for You, and may I love in You all others (love all others because of You)!

- Our hearts have been made for God and they shall never rest until they rest in Him!

- Grant me, O Lord, fortitude that I may stand my ground, patience that I may endure and constancy that I may persevere.

- Your peace does not depend on the tongues of men, because, whether they judge well or evil of you, you are not for this another man.

Take it calmly when people speak ill of you, and remember that it is God's judgment which alone matters.

- Prayer without evangelism is an arrow shot nowhere.

The Ten Commandments were written on stone - one can break them but not bend them.

Doing nothing to avoid mistakes is probable one of the worst to make.

Fear is a darkroom in which negatives are developed.

Life's greatest tragedy is to lose God and never miss Him.

Family who prays together - stays together.

- A man's true progress consists in denying himself.

- Warfare: Repentance, fasting, biblical giving, unity, serving, praise, opposing the devil and claiming territory (praying on location) - do not quit!

- Jesus, let me die to the desire of the esteem and to the fear of the contempt of men, that I may seek only to find favor with You!

- Lord, may You be all to me in time, that You may be my all for eternity!

- The natural man is full of self-love and, seeks self gratification.

The supernatural man does all things for God.

- "I am the way, the truth and the life" (Jn 14,6). Without the Way, there is no going; without the Truth, there is no knowing; without the Life, there is no living.

- If you will be exalted in heaven, humble yourself in this world.

- If you will reign with Christ, bear the cross with Him.

- The three basic teachings of Paul:

1. Jesus the Christ is the Savior.

2. We are saved (justified) not by the Law but rather by Grace, which we receive through believing and following Jesus.

3. The driving force (propelling principle) is not the Law but the Holy Spirit.

- The Word of God is the light of my soul (see Ps 118,105) and the Eucharist is the nourishment of my life.

- God often gives in one short moment what He has for a long time denied.

- Submit yourself to God and humble your reason to faith and the light of wisdom will be given you in that manner as shall be useful and necessary for you.

- It is often useful for the servant of God to suffer temptations. It matures the faith of the Saints.

For the devil does not tempt the unbelievers and sinners, whom he already possesses; but he tempts and molests in diverse ways the devout faithful.

- God walks with the simple and reveals Himself to the pure of heart and hides His grace from the proud.

- All reasoning and natural investigation must follow faith and not go before it.

- All Christian communities have to have their basis and center in the celebration of the holy Eucharist.

- Blessed is that simplicity which leaves the difficult ways of questions and walks on in the plain and sure path of God's commandments.

- I desire to reserve nothing to myself but freely and most willingly to sacrifice myself and all that is mine to You, o Lord!

6. The Biblical Foundation for making and mending relationships

We can learn how to relate. We have to realize that a relationship which is based on the Bible is essentially different from any other relationships. Biblical Relationship starts with conversion.

Let us make some thoughts on Biblical Relationships.

A relationship is the mutual sharing of life between two or more persons.

For a relationship to exist between persons, each must make some contribution or supply some kind of input into the interaction going on between them.

We are embodied or incarnate spirit. Sharing life involves the interaction of spirit.

Our relationship with God: The aspect of mutuality means here that although God most certainly wants to be actively in relationship with us and has done all that is needed to bring that about, the whole thing will work only if we are prepared to be actively involved with Him.

How we do it? With God's grace we give ourselves, reaching out in our spirit to God and consciously and continually build a relationship with Him.

Basically, there are two types of relationships:

1. Instrumental or co-operative relationships

2. Consummatory or social relationships

ad 1. Individuals may enter into co-operative relationships to reach a goal, attain an objective, complete a common task, achieve a purpose. The relationship is an instrument to an end outside the relationship and without the existence of the goal or purpose there would be nothing to cause the people to relate. Such relationships are between employer and employee, teacher and pupils, etc.

ad 2. This relationship is not a means to an end outside the partnership, it has its end in itself. Marriage (see The Teaching of the Church of Jesus the Christ - The Sacrament of Marriage): Is not for any human purpose or end outside the partnership. The purpose lies within the relationship: The marriage- relationship and children are for the sake of completing and fulfilling the marriage.

The ultimate end of marriage is a God given one. That means: Man was made first of all for the relationship with God. The ultimate end of this and all other human relationships therefore must be the strengthening and building up of the relationship with the Lord.

How deep and how wide should be our relationship?

1. Intimacy or closeness, that is, how deeply do we intend or expect to enter into each other's life in this relationship?

2. Scope or extent, that is, how much of our life is to be involved in this relationship?

Marriage is meant to be the most intimate and most extensive of all human relationships, so close that it is described as "becoming one flesh" (Gn 2,24).

The building blocks of relationships:

1. Love

2. Trust

3. Respect or honor

  1. Understanding or knowledge

ad 1. Emotional and volitional love.

Emotional love is necessary but it is unreliable.

Volitional love involves a response of our will or active choice. I can choose to love. That is why God can command: "You shall love the Lord your God" (Deut 6,5), or "love your enemies" (Mt 5,44).

Biblical love is a response which engages all our faculties.

It is important to note, that when we love God first and before all, then our need for divine, unchanging love is satisfied. It is then that our need for a perfect person to love is met and we are free to give and receive what human love can give and receive - variable, up and down, warm, affectionate, caring, etc.

ad 2. The essence of trust is that I voluntarily make myself dependent on other persons.

Trust is, like love, has an emotional and an volitional element.

Trust and its more biblical term faith: Faith is a necessary prerequisite of any personal relationship.

Trust is an active commitment, therefore in relationships we need to keep working at it.

Every act of trust exposes us to vulnerability: We are depending on someone else for the outcome.

Trust also means dependence and reliance. The other side of these is dependability and reliability.

ad 3. Honor or respect is the recognition of the other person's worth or value; his performance or achievement.

In everything we do we ought to have excellence as our goal.

To honor somebody means to recognize, to receive and to acknowledge him or her.

The first and most obvious way of conveying respect is by saying it, by putting our appreciation of the other person into words. Expression of praise, esteem, appreciation, affirmation, approval and commendation are all ways of showing honor.

Honor is often conveyed in non-verbal ways. It is in the tone of voice, in our eyes, in the way we look at one another.

Touch is also important in communicating honor.

Respect and honor are also conveyed when we are genuinely concerned for the other person's welfare and best interest.

ad 4. When we do find someone who genuinely wants to understand us, we feel immediately released from the need to justify our behavior or opinions.

Understanding and knowledge of each other is the aim of relationship and prerequisite for the other above mentioned elements to develop.

Genuine communication between persons and knowledge of persons is at the level of the human spirit.

The real person is accessible only as we reach his or her human spirit.

We reach it by communicating in words (verbal communication) and behavior (non-verbal communication).

Words are the vehicle of the spirit: "The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life" (Jn 6,63). We have to learn to speak the truth from the heart. When we communicate in the spirit and in the truth we communicate the essence of our person. Through such communication the knowledge of each other grows.

Real knowledge and understanding of other persons comes only out of a deep respect for the integrity of the other and the willingness to take the same risks as they are called to take.

Empathy: Is the ability to put ourselves in the other person's place so that we feel our way into what he or she is feeling.

Things that wound love:

1. Cruelty: Is inflicting pain on the other person.

2. Dislike: Feelings of distaste or aversion or repugnance to wards the other person.

3. Rejection: Is the spurning or refusal of an offer of, or a request for, closeness and intimacy.

4. Withdrawal or coldness.

5. Ingratitude: Is taking what we can get from the other person without appreciation or thanks.

6. Neglect is a classic sin of omission as far as love is concerned. It begins by taking the relationship for granted.

7. Envy: Is ill will at the success, popularity, privileges or achievements of the other person.

Things that breach trust:

1. Breach of confidence.

2. Unfaithfulness or disloyalty: Braking the terms of the relationship or the obligations that go with it.

3. Dishonesty.

4. Unreliability, inconsistency, carelessness, thoughtlessness, moodiness.

5. Moral weakness. It is difficult to trust someone who has not the backbone to stand up under pressure or against opposition; shows evidence of character flaws or lack of principle.

6. Jealousy.

Things that damage respect:

1. People used as a means to an end.

2. Criticism, nagging and fault finding are damaging to a person's sense of personal worth or value.

3. Tendency to embarrass the other person.

4. Ignoring or disregarding.

5. Selfishness or irresponsibility: The tendency to gratify our own desire without any concern for how other people are likely be affected by our behavior.

6. Incompetence, inadequacy - demonstrated incompetence in areas where we have claimed competence.

  1. Pettiness: Minor or insignificant issues are blown up out of all proportion.

Barriers to understanding:

Mutual knowledge and understanding depends on two things. They depend on conveying accurate and meaningful disclosures about ourselves and they depend on making accurate and meaningful interpretations of the disclosures that the other person is making of himself or herself.

There are things that interfere with our ability to perceive accurately:

1. Lack or inadequate communication.

2. Bias and prejudice: We have already made up our mind about them before they have even opened their mouth.

3. Inability or unwillingness to listen properly.

4. Insensitivity and lack of imagination. Often we need to listen between the lines and imaginatively enter the other person's world.

5. Deception: Creating an impression that is not really in accord with reality.

6. The various forms of mistake, misconception and miscommunication.

What is the answer?

The solution begins with a frank admission of our failure and take steps to correct it.

Some of the states of mind when relationships break down:

1. Self-justification: "It wasn't my fault." This is the tendency to see ourselves as being in the right in the dispute or being the injured party or the innocent victim of the other person's ill will or ill behavior.

2. Recrimination: "It was all your fault." Here, the other person is seen as wholly or mainly to blame for what has happened.

3. Excuse: "I couldn't help it." This is our need to find reasons that absolve us from blame or responsibility for the way we acted or reacted.

4. Confusion: Neither party seems to have any clear idea of what has gone wrong or what caused their difficulties.

5. Retaliation: Replacing the real reason by another that is more acceptable to our self-image.

6. Projection: We see faults in other people that are really our own particular failings to which we are blind.

7. Displacement: Reactions or feelings that we are unable or unwilling to express or admit in one place, are given vent to in a totally unrelated situation. The man who is reprimanded on the job and suppresses his anger for fear of the boss, may come home and fly into a rage with his wife over nothing at all.

Emotional states:

1. Pain: It may be expressed as hurt, loss, grief, sadness, loneliness or depression.

2. Anger: Anger may come out as hostility, bitterness, malice, revengefulness or spite.3. Guilt can manifest itself in:

a. Regret - which is a passive state;

b. Remorse or condemnation - a negative and unproductive state, often mixed with self-pity;

c. Repentance - which can lead to positive amendment.

Repentance is not only a sorrow for our wrongdoing but a turning from it with a desire to make restitution and recompense and to rectify our wrong attitudes and behaviors.

4. Fear - include apprehension, alarm, anxiety, dread and panic (We made a distinction between fear and dread in the book "Introduction to Genuine Christian Life.")

5. Jealousy or envy: Resentment over the loss of...(it can be anything); or not able to have...(it also can be anything).

6. Alienation, estrangement, apathy and indifference.

Behavior patterns:

The basic behavior patterns that results from the above mentioned states of mind and feelings can be characterized as either fight or flight or swinging between both extremes.

Intervening to help:

We need to concentrate, not on the techniques of handling the person's varying emotional moods or mental states, but on manifesting love, trust, respect and honor and a genuine attempt to understand them and what they are going through.

When there is patient, intelligent, sacrificial and caring listening the troubled person can often find the courage to discharge his or her mental confusion and emotional turmoil.

Reconciliation:

Reconciliation has two main meanings. It signifies the restoration of accord and harmony between parties who were at odds with one another or it refers to the settling of a dispute or disagreement between parties.

The aim of reconciliation is the restoration of righteousness.

To be righteous is to be made right with God in a relationship of accord and harmony.

Reconciliation involves a change of attitudes.

Reconciliation is totally foreign to us because it is wholly dependent on divine grace.

The Cross of Christ IS THE effective means of ALL reconciliation.

The Cross is the divine intervention in all disputes. It is redemption reaching as far as sin has gone and restoring all that sin has damaged. The Cross is God reconciling all things to Himself. Only the atonement makes us at one again - only the Cross restores.

There is a resource of love in the Cross that can regenerate human love that has been so hurt that it has finally died.

Christians have an awesome responsibility in a deeply divided world because to us God has given the particular ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor 5,18).

Persons are reconciled and not problems:

Reconciliation God's way means that we must first of all find each other as persons.

God is persistent, patient and quite relentless in problem salving, but He does it only after we are reconciled, not before. Problem solving is one of the results of reconciliation.

Steps towards reconciliation:

Take the initiative - reach out.

Let resentment go - this is an act of will.

Separate the person from what he or she has done.

Repentance: To begin with we have to realize that both by our actions and our reactions we have sinned against and grieved the Holy Spirit.

Coming to each other in the attitude of repentance and humility we can ask for and give forgiveness for our estrangement, and by faith in the reconciling work of the Cross we can receive each other into a new relationship.

Problem solving in relationships - is a process of sanctification:

The given self is the fulfilled self!

1. Forbearance: Is the ability not to be unduly upset or irritated by the faults or weaknesses of others. It is an active bearing with and bearing each other's burden. It is patience and gentleness, waiting for the appropriate time to approach the matter in a positive and helpful way.

The two main reasons why we often find forbearance difficult:

a. A lack of compassion and inability to identify with the other person's failings;

b. An unwillingness to face up to our own weaknesses and unexplored tendencies that are probably equally irritating to the other person.

2. Unresolved hurts from the past: Something that was buried has now surfaced and there is now a chance for us to deal with the issue. Wounds in our feelings must be brought to Christ for cleansing and healing.

3. Unintentional wrongs: Even here we have to put things right.

4. Anger:

What is anger? Anger is one of our God-given emotions, it is in fact one of the emergency arousal of emotions and its function is to release mental energy to enable us to face a crisis or danger.

However, "In your anger, do not sin..." (see Eph 4,26).

5. Forgiveness is different from pardon, only God can pardon our sin. Forgiveness is dealing with our feelings and our response towards the one who has injured us. It is letting them go free of recrimination or retribution as far as our desires are concerned.

What if there is no response? Trust the future of the relationship into God's hands.

"Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing" (Lk 23,34).

7. Ash Wednesday

The ashes are made out of burned plants. The ashes should be blessed and distributed during the Eucharist.

Signing the forehead with ashes in a form of a double-cross, the celebrant says: "Remember man that you are dust and to dust you shall return". We are reminded of our origin.

Lent is the time of fasting, increased prayer and alms-giving. We are preparing ourselves to commemorate the death (Good Friday) and the resurrection (Easter Sunday) of our Lord.

8. THE PASSOVER MEAL

Introduction

Commentator:

It is an immensely valuable historical and spiritual experience to participate in a Jewish Seder. This could take place in the home of a Messianic Jew. The Seder familiarizes the participants with the background to the Eucharist by evoking the original context of the Christian Pascha – the Last Supper.

In the Liturgy of the Seder we experience something of the worship Jesus the Jew knew and loved. We find ourselves moved and powerfully included in this ancient living tradition.

Christian Liturgy is a wild olive branch grafted (compare Rom 11,19) on the Jewish cultivated liturgical tree (compare Rom 11,24). Judaism is our parent faith!

An other important effect of our participation in this ancient Jewish liturgy is that we learn to love the Jews as God's chosen people, people of divine covenant which has never been revoked (see Rom 11,28-31).

The Seder (Hebrew = sedher)

commemorates the Exodus from Egypt on Passover, the deliverance of the Jews from slavery: God brought them out from Egypt, through the waters of the Red Sea (see Ex 14,22), to the freedom of the Promised Land (see Josh).

The Passover of the New Covenant

should take place within the Body of Christ, that is, within the church-community. It commemorates (see Lk 22,19-20) God bringing His Son Jesus Christ through the deep waters of death and raising Him (see Lk 24), and in Him us as Christians, to the eternal freedom of the life of triumph (see Col 3,4). The Passover of the New Covenant is the celebration of our `passing over' IN Christ from the slavery of sin to the promise land of the liberty of the Children of God.

Christ elevated the Seder to the Passover of the "New Covenant" (see Lk 22,20b). The symbols of the Seder are pointing to the Messiah (still hidden for our Jewish brethren), anticipating His coming. These symbols are fulfilled in the Passover of the New Covenant: The Messiah Jesus the Christ has arrived!

The Menu and its Meanings:

We are looking at symbols which are fulfilled in the New Covenant.

(The commentator explains the different symbols and shows the participants the different ingredients used in this service)

Wine:

Four times in this ceremony a cup of wine is poured, each a symbol of joy and thanksgiving. The four cups, each with a different name, represent the four "I will" promises which Yahweh made to His People:

1. The cup of Kiddush: "I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians" - of satan;

2. The cup of Haffadah: "I will deliver you from your bondage" - of sin;

3. The cup of Thanksgiving: "I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment";

4. The cup of Berakah (blessing): "I will take you for my people" (compare Ex 6,6.7).

Roast Lamb:

A reminder of the Paschal Lamb, Jesus Christ.

Eggs:

Symbol of the freewill offering which accompanies the sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb and the Temple in which sacrifices were brought.

Egg hides life – the free-will sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb gave us life.

Egg is also a symbol of the temple – the place of Jewish sacrifice.

Unleavened Bread (Matzah):

Called "the bread of affliction", a reminder of the Israelites' hurried flight out of Egypt - our hurried flight from the slavery of sin.

Green vegetable:

Lettuce and parsley - symbol of life and hope fulfilled in Christ.

Salt-water:

In memory of the tears shed by the captive Israelites during the years of bondage - our sorrow for our sins.

Haroseth:

A paste of apples, almonds, raisins and cinnamon, representing the mortar the Israelite slaves used to build Egypt's pagan monuments - reminding us of our ungodly past, pursuing (`building') our own plans.

Bitter herbs (horseradish):

Symbolizes the bitterness of slavery - our captivity in sin.

The Order of the Passover Seder

Commentator:

[The Old Testament Seder and the New Covenant Passover often run parallel throughout the liturgy.]

LIGHTING THE FESTIVAL LIGHTS

Commentator:

The light is the symbol of Christ, the light of the world (see Jn 8,12).

All gather round the tables and stand quietly. The hostess says the traditional prayer of the mother* of the "family" as she lights the candles at the head table.

* As the woman begins the Seder and gives light to the Passover table, so it was a woman who began the redemptive life-work of the Messiah, our Passover, by giving birth to the Light of the world.

Mother: Blessed are You, O Lord our King, King of the universe, who have sanctified us and commanded us to light the festival lights.

All: Amen!

KIDDUSH - THE BLESSING OF THE FEAST

Leader: (explains clearly what he is doing and shows the participants what

they should do by demonstrating the different actions)

The first ceremony of the Passover is a benediction.

Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, Creator of the

fruit of the wine.

(The first cup of the vine is poured but not yet drunk)

Leader: Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who have chosen us above all people and have exalted us above all tongues and have hallowed us. With love You have given us, O Lord, festivals for joy - this Passover feast, this feast of freedom, a holy gathering to remember our Exodus. You have chosen us and given us a heritage of festivals for joy and gladness. Blessed are You, O Lord, who sanctify God's People and the festive seasons.

All: Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who have kept us alive and sustained us and brought us to this season.

(The first cup of wine is drunk)

THE WASHING OF HANDS

Leader: The second ceremony of the Passover is the washing of hands, a symbolic act of purification.

( Only the Leader washes his hands in ritual preparation to eat)

DIVIDING THE MATZAH

As the Matzah, the unleavened bread, is broken, the Leader says:

This is the bread of affliction which our fathers ate in the land of Bondage. Let all who are hungry come and eat. Let all who are in want, come and celebrate the Passover with us. May it be God's will to redeem us from all evil and all bondage.

Leader: The Matzah is broken into three parts*. The middle Matzah** is hidden and will be eaten at the very end of the meal. This is the bread which is used for the Eucharistic Celebration.

* These parts symbolize the Trinity. ** The middle Matzah is a symbol of the Messiah, Jesus the Christ.

(The Leader now hides the "middle Matzah")

THE RECITATION OF THE HAGGADAH

(SEDER Narrative)

(The second cup of wine is poured, but not yet drunk)

Youngest member of the "family":

Why is this night different from all other nights? On all other nights, we eat either leavened or unleavened bread. So why on this night do we eat only unleavened bread?

On all other nights we eat all kinds of herbs. Why on this night do we eat only bitter herbs?

On all other nights we do not dip herbs in any condiment. Why on this night do we dip them in salt water and haroseth?

On all other nights we eat without special festivities. Why on this night do we hold this Passover ceremony?

Leader: You have asked four important questions which involve four unusual practices and ceremonies which take place at the Passover table. To find the answers we must go back to the early history of our people, to the days of Moses and Aaron, when Israel was in slavery in Egypt.

Eldest person at the feast:

We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, but God brought us out from there "with a strong hand and an outstretched arm". If the Holy One, blessed be He!, had not brought us our of Egypt, we and our children and our children's children would still be slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt. The Lord commanded us to tell this story to our children. The more we talk about the Exodus, the more God is exalted.

A wandering people were our fathers, as they went down into Egypt and sojourned there, few in number. There they became a great and mighty nation. The Egyptians treated them harshly, afflicted them and laid upon them hard bondage. Then they cried to the Lord and He heard their voice and saw their affliction, their toil and oppression.

Leader: Pharaoh defied God's command and refused to release the Israelites. Because of this and because of the evilness of the Egyptians, the Lord afflicted the land of Egypt with ten plagues.

(As each plague is mentioned, the Leader dips a finger in the cup and "spills" a drop of wine into the salt water)

Water turned into blood.

The swarm of frogs.

Gnats on man and beast.

Swarms of flies.

Pestilence upon cattle and flocks.

Boils and sores on man and beast.

Hail and fire upon the earth.

Locusts on the face of the land.

Thick darkness in all the land.

The slaying of the first-born.

We will not drinking the cup of delight (second cup) wholly, for we cannot celebrate the feast of deliverance full of joy when so many human beings have perished. In spilling wine, we recall the plagues sent upon the Egyptians and the evil and suffering still existing in the world today.

Eldest person:

The Lord brought our fathers out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror, with signs and wonders, and He brought them into this place and gave them this land - a land flowing with milk and honey.

(The Leader lifts the Lamb bone)

All: What is the meaning of Pesach?

Leader: Pesach means the Paschal Lamb which our forefathers sacrificed to the Lord that night when the Holy One passed over the houses of our fathers in Egypt; as it is written: "When your children say to you, `What do you mean by this festival?' you shall say, `It is the sacrifice of the Lord's Passover; for He passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he slew the Egyptians but spared our houses'" (Ex 12,26.27).

As the Blood of the Passover Lamb saved the Israelites in Egypt from death, so also the Lamb of God, the Messiah, save God's People from eternal death.

(The Leader holds up a piece of unleavened bread)

All: What is the meaning of Matzah?

Leader: This is the bread of affliction which our fathers took with them out of Egypt, as it is written: "And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough they had brought out of Egypt; for it was not leavened, because they were thrust out of Egypt and could not tarry; neither had they prepared for themselves any provisions" (Ex 12,39).

The hidden Matzah, which we will find at the end of supper, is the symbol of the Messiah, still hidden from the eyes of the children of the First Covenant.

(The Leader holds up the bitter herbs)

All: What is the meaning of Maror?

Leader: Maror means bitter herbs. We eat maror to recall that the Egyptians embittered the lives of our fathers, as it is written: "So they made the people of Israel serve with rigor, and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field" (Ex 1,13.14).

God's People of the New Covenant remember their bitter bondage in sin, being enslaved by the devil.

All: What is the meaning of the Sweet Heroseth?

Leader: The Heroseth reminds us of the mortar used by our forefathers in their brick-works in Egypt. It is sweet because even the bitterest labor is sweetened by the promise of redemption.

We, the People of the New Covenant, gratefully remember our redemption.

All: What is the meaning of the Egg?

Leader: The Egg is the symbol of life, which we received from the Lord our Deliverer from bondage - the bondage of satan.

All: What is the meaning of the green Vegetable and the Salt-water?

Leader: The greens represent the life of the Israelites; the salt water their tears: They remind us that the life of the Israelites were "dipped" into tears in Egypt.

In every generation, each person must know that he himself came out of bondage. As the Bible says: "And you shall tell your son in that day, `It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt'" (Ex 13,8). God did not only redeem our ancestors, but He also redeemed us. As it says: "And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land which he swore to give to our fathers" (Deut 6,23).

All: We thank God. We praise, glorify, exalt and bless Yahweh, who did all these miracles for our ancestors and us. He brought us from slavery to freedom, from sorrow to joy, from darkness to a great light, from servitude to redemption. Let us sing a new song: HALLELUJAH!

Recite Psalm 114 (alternately)

Leader: When Israel came out of Egypt and the house of Jacob from among a people of alien tongue, Judah became God's sanctuary and Israel His dominion.

All: The sea saw that and fled; Jordan was driven back.

The mountains skipped like young rams, and the little hills like young sheep.

Leader: What ailed you, O sea, that you fled;

O Jordan, that you were driven back?

All: Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord;

at the presence of the God of Jacob,

who turned the rock into a pool of water

and the flint-stone into a welling spring.

Praise the Lord!

(The Leader takes the cup into his hands)

Leader: Blessed are You, O Lord, King of the universe, who have redeemed us and have redeemed our fathers from Egypt, and have permitted us to live in this night, to partake in this Seder. May Your will be done, so that Your name be sanctified in the midst of all the earth, and that all peoples be moved to worship You with one accord. And we shall sing new songs of praise to You, for our redemption. Blessed are You, O Lord, who redeem Your People!

All: Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the wine!

(The second cup of wine is drunk)

WASHING THE HANDS

(The Leader washes his hands again)

Leader: Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who have sanctified us by your commandments and commanded us regarding the washing of hands!

(All wash their hands in bowls of water provided for the purpose and dry with tissues)

BENEDICTION OVER THE MATZAH

(Each participant takes a piece of matzah)

All: Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who bring forth bread from the earth.

Leader: Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who sanctified us and commanded us concerning the eating of unleavened bread.

(All eat the matzah)

BITTER HERBS

(All take another small piece of matzah, dip it in haroseth and sprinkle it with bitter herbs)

Leader: Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who have sanctified us and commanded us concerning the eating of herbs.

(All eat the matzah, haroseth and bitter herbs)

GREEN VEGETABLES

(All take the parsley and dip it in salt-water)

Leader: Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who have sanctified us and commanded us concerning the eating of greens dipped in salt- water.

(All eat the parsley dipped in salt-water)

EGGS

(All take the egg and dip it in salt-water)

Leader: The egg represents the Temple. Even as a hen lays an egg once a day early in the morning, so sacrifice was offered early every morning.

Blessed are You, O Lord God of the universe, who have sanctified us and commanded us concerning the eating of the egg dipped in salt-water.

(All eat the egg)

SONG

(Music)

l. Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest (repeat)

Lord we lift up Your name with hearts full of praise;

Be exalted, oh Lord my God, Hosanna in the highest.

2. Glory, Glory, Glory to the King of Kings .(repeat)

Lord we lift up Your name with hearts full of praise;

Be exalted, oh Lord my God, Hosanna in the highest (repeat)

DINNER IS SERVED

(spices should be placed on the table)

(During the meal: all converse on matters of piety and holiness)

GRACE AFTER THE MEAL

Leader: Let us bless our God of whose bounty we have partaken:

Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who feed the whole world with Your goodness, with grace and with loving kindness. You give bread to all flesh, for You loving-kindness endures for ever. Because of Your loving-kindness food has not been and shall not be lacking for us.

All: Blessed are You, O Lord, who feed all Your creatures.

(The third cup is poured)

Leader: Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the wine.

(The third cup is drunk)

(The fourth cup is now filled, but not drunk)

Commentator: Now is the time that the children will look for the `afikoman', the piece of matzah which the leader has hidden. After the afikoman is found the service will continue.

The children will receive a reward. The recovered afikoman will be used in the Passover of the New Covenant - it represents the Messiah.

Leader: All works shall sing Hallel (Praise) to You! Those who are touched with Your grace and righteousness, all Your people give thanks, bless, revere and sanctify Your Name, O our King! It is good to give thanks to You; for You are God, from eternity to eternity!

THE GREAT HALLEL (Psalm 136 - abbreviated)

(prayed alternately)

Leader: O give thanks to the Lord for he is good;

for his mercy endures for ever.

All: O give thanks to the God of gods;

for his mercy endures for ever.

Leader: O give thanks to the Lord of Lords,

for his mercy endures for ever.

All: To him who alone does great wonders,

for his mercy endures for ever.

Leader: Who struck down Egypt and its first-born,

for his mercy endures for ever.

All: Who brought out Israel from among them,

for his mercy endures for ever.

Leader: With a strong hand and with outstretched arm,

for his mercy endures for ever.

All: Who divided the Red Sea into two parts,

for his mercy endures for ever.

Leader: And made Israel pass through the midst of it,

for his mercy endures for ever.

All: Who cast off Pharaoh and his host into the Red Sea,

for his mercy endures for ever.

Leader: Who led his people through the wilderness,

for his mercy endures for ever.

All: Who struck down great kings,

for his mercy endures for ever.

Leader: Who made over their land as a heritage,

for his mercy endures for ever.

All: As a heritage for Israel his servant,

for his mercy endures for ever.

Leader: O give thanks to the God of heaven,

for his mercy endures for ever!

SONG

(music)

l. Let us break bread together with the Lord! (repeat)

Refrain: As we travel through this land

all God's children hand in hand,

Lord, fill all our living with your life.

2. Let us drink wine together with the Lord...

3. Let us sing songs together with the Lord...

4. Let us all work together for the Lord...

THE PASSOVER OF THE NEW COVENANT

(The head table is cleared of all but the recovered afikoman, wine and water)

Leader: The first reading is taken from the letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians: "Is not the cup of thanksgiving from which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one bread" (1 Cor 16-17). "For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks judgment on himself" (1 Cor 11,26-29).

This is the word of the Lord.

All: Thanks be to God.

The Celebrant: A reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Matthew, chapter 26, beginning at verse 17

All: Glory to You, Lord Christ!

The Celebrant:

"On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciple came to Jesus and asked, `Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?' He replied, `Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.' So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover. When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve (and he said to them: `I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer', Lk 22,15)...while they were eating Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it and give it to His Apostles saying: TAKE, EAT; THIS IS MY BODY, WHICH IS BROKEN FOR YOU; do this in remembrance of me.

Likewise He took the cup, gave thanks; He gave it to them, saying: Drink of it all of you; FOR THIS IS MY BLOOD OF THE NEW COVENANT, WHICH IS SHED FOR YOU AND FOR MANY FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me!

All: Amen!

EPICLESE

Send Your Holy Spirit upon these gifts and transform the bread into the Body of Christ and the wine into His precious Blood!

The Celebrant breaks the Matzah and passes a piece to each table. As he does so, he says: "Is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?" (1 Cor 10,26b)

Each person receives a small piece of the bread, eats it and passes the rest to the next person.

The "Fourth Cup" is then passed in the same way from person to person, the celebrant having first said: "Is not the cup of blessing for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ?" (1 Cor 10,26a)

When the remaining bread and wine have been returned to the table, all join in saying the LORD'S PRAYER:

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come,

your will be done on earth as in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

as we also have forgiven those who sin against us.

Lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from the evil one.

SONG (music)

Havenu Shalom Alechem (3times)

Havenu Shalom, Shalom, Shalom Alechem

(We bring peace unto you)

CONCLUDING PRAYER

Leader: O Lord our God, King of the universe,

we give You thanks for our deliverance from the slavery of sin.

We thank You for bringing us to the Promise Land of the Liberty of

the Children of God.

We praise You that in this sacrament

You have given us the memorial

of the passion of Your dear Son Jesus the Christ.

We give You thanks that in this sacrament

of His Body and Blood

we have been nourished with His life

and strengthened for His service.

Now send us out filled and renewed

with the power of Your Holy Spirit

to love and serve You and all people

as You have shown us Your love

in Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord!

All: Amen!

CONCLUSION AND DISMISSAL

Leader: Our Passover is ended. Remember always Christ our Passover Lamb, through whose death we have forgiveness and the remission of our sins...may they al be ONE.

All: Let us go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

Amen!

Christ our Peace is with us. Alleluia!

9. Advent, Lent and Easter Sunday

The Church of Jesus the Christ prepares the Saints for the commemoration of great events of salvation, especially for Easter and Christmas. The preparation for Christmas is called Advent and that of Easter, Lent. The preparation lasts 40 days. During these days we prepare our self by prayer, fasting and alms-giving.

The Holy Week starts with Palm Sunday - a palm procession is recommended.

Ash Wednesday (see above).

On Maundy Thursday we celebrate the Last Supper (event within the Passover), concluding it with prayer vigil before the exposed Eucharist.

Good Friday we remember the Crucifixion of the Lord - The Lord's Passion will be read and a procession of the Stations of the Cross "celebrated".

The Easter Eucharist is in many ways a very special Supper of the Lord:- With great devotion, the Easter Candle will be lit* and carried in procession into the Church. This Candle is a symbol for the triumphant Lord.

- The congregation will renew its baptismal vows and the Catechumenen are baptized.

* THE SERVICE OF THE LIGHT: (This is a part of the Service of the Catechumen)

(The CELEBRANT and his helpers gather around the entrance of the building. The celebrant lights the New Fire, the symbol of New Life in Christ, and blesses it saying:)

Eternal God, who made this most holy season;

bless this fire; set us aflame with the fire of Your love and bring us to the radiance of Your heavenly glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

The CELEBRANT lights the Easter Candle and says:

Christ yesterday and today,

the beginning and the end,

Alpha and Omega,

to Him be glory and power

through every age and forever!

All: Amen.

May the light of Christ, rising in glory,

banish all darkness from our hearts and minds.

Now the CELEBRANT with his helpers processes the Candle into (through) the congregation, raises it and says:

The light of Christ!

All: Thanks to be God.

The procession moves to the front of the congregation and the Candle is placed on a stand or on the altar.

The CELEBRANT: ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN!

All: He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

EXULTET

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing choir of angels!

Exult, all creation around God's throne!

Jesus Christ, our King, is risen!

Sound the trumpet of salvation!

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,radiant in the brightness of your King!

Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!

Darkness vanishes forever!

Rejoice O Mother Church! Exult in Glory!

The risen Savior shines upon you!

Let this place resound with joy!

Echoing the mighty song of all God's people!

CELEBRANT: The Lord be with you!

All: And also with you!

[Parts of the Liturgy of the Catechumen can be added here; see Liturgy]

GLORIA IN EXCELSIS

All:

Glory to God in the highest

and peace to God's people on earth.

Lord God, heavenly King,

almighty God and Father,

we worship You, we give You thanks, we praise Your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,

Lord God, Lamb of God,

You take away the sin of the world;

have mercy on us;

You are seated at the right hand of the Father:

Receive our prayer.

For You alone are the Holy One,

You alone are the Lord,

You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ,

with the Holy Spirit,

in the glory of God the Father. Amen!

[See again the Liturgy]

HYMN TO THE RISEN CHRIST

All:

Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us:

So let us celebrate the feast.

Not with the old leaven of corruption and wickedness,

but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Christ once raised from the dead, dies no more.

Death has no more dominion over Him.

In dying He died to sin once for all

in living He lives for God.

See your selves therefore as dead to sin.

For as by one man came death;by another has come also resurrection of the dead.

For as in Adam all die:

Even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

Glory to God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit;

as in the beginning, so now and forever. Amen!

[Readings can precede and/or follow this hymn]

At Easter Night the baptism of the Catechumen will take place. The Believers will renew their baptismal vows by answering for themselves the questions put to the Catechumenen. After the Service of the Catechumen the Liturgy of the Faithful will follow. (See Liturgy).

10. Prayer service

This service can be held at any time of day or night.

Introduction

This prayer service is a simple style of song and/or prayer and/or meditation. In this way of praying, short scripture passages are recited or chanted until they move from head to the heart. We will become open to God, reconciled to our neighbor and united with those in need.

THE LITURGY

Chant (Choir): Veni Sancte Spiritus (Come Holy Spirit)

Chant (All): Veni Sancte Spiritus (Come Holy Spirit).

(After the cantor's and/or choir's "Veny Sancte Spiritus", vocal [solo] and/or instrumental verses [an example will follow] can be song or played as desired with some space left between. This arrangement can be repeated after every "chant".)

Choir: Come Holy Spirit, from heaven shine forth with Your glorious light.

All: "Come Holy Spirit, from heaven shine forth with Your glorious light" -

Choir: "Veni Sancte Spiritus".

ALL: "Come, Father of the poor, come, generous Spirit, come , light of our hearts" -

Choir: "Veni Sancte Spiritus."

Leader: The Lord be with you.

All: And also with you.

Lector I:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and without Him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in Him was life and the life was the light of the people. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it (Jn 1,1-5).

Leader: Jesus Christ is the Light of the world!

All: A Light no darkness can quench.

(Whilst the candles* are lit and the light is shared, the following chant is sung.

* At night, the entire service can be held just in candle-light)

Choir: The Lord is my light, my light and salvation: In Him I trust, in Him I trust.

Chant (All): The Lord is my light, my light and salvation: In Him I trust, in Him I trust.

Leader: All praise and thanks to You eternal God

for the gift of Your Crucified One;

who has released the just from the chains of hell.

We rejoice in the sacrifice of Your

obedient and suffering Servant.

By the Cross of Christ

You have destroyed death

and the power of the evil one.

Today we are eager for the Resurrection

to set fire to our minds and hearts.

Your voice comes to rend our night

and to open the gateway of praise within us.

Longing for the flame of justice,

we give You thanks and praise.

All: Amen.

Lector II: (Readings and Psalms can be adjusted to the Church Calendar and their number can be

increased or reduced.)

Psalm 116:

I love You God, because You have heard my voice and my

supplication; because You have inclined Your ear to me.

All: I love You God, because You have heard my voice and my supplications;

because You have inclined Your ear to me.

Lector: Therefore, I will call on You as long as I live. The cords of death encompasses me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me. I suffered sorrow and anguish. Then I called on You, O God: `Lord, I beseech You, save my life!'

All: I Love You God, because You have heard my voice and my supplications; because You have inclined Your ear to me.

Lector: Glorious are You, God, and righteous; You protect the simple hearted. When I was brought low, You saved me. Be at rest once more, O my soul, for God has been good to you!

All: I love You God, because You have heard my voice and my supplications; because You have inclined Your ear to me.

Lector: For You, God have delivered my soul from death; my eyes from tears; my feet from stumbling. I walk before You, God, in the land of the living.

All: I love You God, because You have heard my voice and my supplications; because You have inclined Your ear to me.

Choir: Surrexit Christus, alleluia!

Cantate Domino, alleluia!

(Christus is risen; sing to the Lord)

All: Surrexit Christus, alleluia!

Cantate Domino, alleluia!

All: "All you heavens, bless the Lord - (choir) Surrexit Christus, alleluia!

Stars of the heavens, bless the Lord - (choir) Cantate Domino, alleluia!

Sun and moon, bless the Lord - (choir) Surrexit...

And you, night and day, bless the Lord - (choir) Cantate...

Frost and cold, bless the Lord - (choir) Surrexit...

Ice and snow, bless the Lord - (choir) Cantate...

Fire and heat, bless the Lord - (choir) Surrexit...

And you light and darkness, bless the Lord - (choir) Cantate...

Spirits and souls of the just, bless the Lord - (choir) Surrexit...

Saints and the humble hearted, bless the Lord - (choir) Cantate..."

Lector III: An appropriate reading will follow.

Chant Choir: There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism; There is one God, who is Father of all.

All; "Bear with one another in love and charity; be humble, be patient, be selfless, be as one."

Choir: "There is one Lord..."

All: There is one Body; there is one Spirit; there is one hope to which we are called."

Choir: "There is one Lord..."

All: "We are all to come to unity, in our faith and knowledge of the Son of god, until we become perfected in the fullness of Christ."

Choir: "There is one Lord..."

Leader: God of creation, come to us.

Let justice flow like water

and integrity like an unfailing stream.

Rise, gentle God, raise Your hand.

Do not forget the poor, the broken, the hurt.

You Yourself have seen the distress and grief of the world,

You watch and take them into Your hands.

Gentle God, You listen to the want of the humble,

You bring strength to their hearts.

Bless us as we praise and rely on You.

THE RENEWAL OF BAPTISMAL VOWS

(This section is optional and can be used meaningfully at the Easter-season)

Leader: As we remember the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the

dead, we remember that through the paschal mystery we have died and

been buried with Him in baptism, so that we may rise with Him to the

new life within the family of the Church.

Let us now renew the promises made at our baptism, affirming our

allegiance to Christ and our rejection of all that is evil.

Therefore I ask you:

Do you turn to Christ?

All: I turn to Christ!

Leader: Do you repent of your sins?

All: I repent of my sins!

Leader: Do you renounce evil?

All: I renounce evil!

Leader: Now I ask you to make the profession of Christian faith in which you

were baptized and which you will continue to live and journey through.

Do you believe and trust in God the Father, who made the world?

All: I believe and trust in God!

Leader: Do you believe and trust in His Son Jesus Christ, who redeemed mankind?

All: I believe and trust in Christ!

Leader: Do you believe and trust in His Holy Spirit, who gives life to the people of God?

All: I believe and trust in the Holy Spirit!

Leader: This is the faith of the Church.

All: This is our faith.

We believe and trust in ONE God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

Leader: Almighty God, we thank You for our fellowship in the community of faith - with all who have been baptized in Your name.

Keep us faithful to our baptism and so make us ready for that day when the whole creation shall be reconciled through Your Son, our Lord

Jesus Christ. Amen.

SILENCE

Chant Choir and All: Laudate Dominum, Laudate Dominum, mnes gentes; Alleluia, Alleluia!

(Praise the Lord, all you people)

Leader: Let us pray:

All: Ever-present God, to whom all hearts are open and all desires known,

inspire us by Your Spirit to love You and your creation. As we rightly

should as Your sons and daughters. Amen

Chant Choir and All: Kyrie, Kyrie, eleison!

(Lord, have mercy on us)

Leader: With regret and with trust, we confess our sins to God.

All: Loving God; merciful and just. We have sinned against You and against

other people and creatures whom You love. We are sorry for our sins!

Please, forgive us and give us the courage to repair what we can and let

go of what we cannot repair through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Leader: Almighty God! Who has promised forgiveness to all who turn to Him in

faith; pardon you and set you free from all your sins. Strengthen you

to do His will and keep you in eternal life; through Jesus Christ

our Lord.

All: Amen.

Chant Choir and All: Gloria, gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Gloria, gloria, alleluia, alleluia!

(Gloria to God in the highest)

Leader: Christ Jesus, by Your Spirit, You come and kindle a burning light

within us. We know well that it is not us who create the source of

light, but You, the Risen Lord. To all of us, You give the one thing

that matters and which is hidden from our eyes: A peaceful trust in

God and poverty in spirit, so that with a great thirst for the

realities of God, we may take the risk of letting You accompany us, O

Christ and of accompanying those whom You entrusted to us. We ask this

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

Lector IV: An appropriate reading will follow.

Chant (All): Jesus, remember me when You come into your Kingdom!

Lectur V.: An appropriate reading will follow.

(Sermon may follow)

SILENT REFLECTION ON THE READINGS (and SERMON)

Leader: Father, may our lives be filled with Your compassion. Give us a spirit

of forgiveness and generosity of heart: Lord we pray!

Chant Choir and All: O Lord hear our prayer; O Lord hear our prayer:

When we call answer us.

O Lord hear my prayer; O Lord hear my prayer"

Come and listen to me.

(This chant will be repeated)

Leader: Lord Jesus, give us a longing for the unity of the Church. May we

we rejoice in the gifts of others. We pray for all who are beginning

to know Christ and who long to center their lives on His will. Lord we

pray! (Repeat chant above)

Leader: Give to married people the strength of Your peace and the grace to

live together in love constantly renewed.

Support those who meet with difficulty and disappointment and renew

their confidence and sense of purpose. Lord we pray! (Repeat chant)

Leader: Bring healing and comfort to those who are sick and those who live in

constant pain. May those who have known the ravages of war and hatred

also know the peace You give. Lord we pray! (Repeat chant)

Leader: For the works of Your Apostles and their representatives and for the

ministry of each and every Christian. Lord we pray! (Repeat chant)

Leader: Lead us by Your Spirit to do Your will. Transform our hearts in

accordance with Your will. Lord we pray! (Repeat chant)

(Any other prayers of intercession may be offered, ending with Lord we

pray! and repeat chant)

Leader: God of mercy, we stand in the mystery of the cross and resurrection

and we contemplate the price of our salvation. Keep us faithful to the

Crucified and Risen Lord, that we may proclaim Your justice to all the

nations. We ask this through Christ our Redeemer. Amen.

THE PEACE

Leader: We are the Body of Christ!

All: God's Spirit is with us.

Leader: The peace of God is with us always.

All: And all that is made.

(The members of the congregation are greeting each other)

Chant Choir and All: Adoramus te Domine. (Hum)

(We adore You, O Lord)

Chant All: "With the angels and archangels;"

Choir: Adoramus te.....

All: "With the patriarchs and prophets;"

Choir: Adoramus te...

All: "With the Virgin Mary, mother of God;"

Choir: Adoramus te....

All: "With the Apostles and evangelists;"

Choir Adoramus te...

All: "With all the martyrs of Christ;"

Choir: Adoramus te....

All: "With all who witness to the Gospel of the Lord;"

Choir: Adoramus te.....

All: "With all your people of the Church throughout the world."

Choir: Adoramus te....

Free intercession can be added. Followed by Choir and All: Adoramus te... and or Lord hear our (my) prayer... (see above).

In case that a Eucharistic Meal is added, The Eucharist of the Faithful will follow. Observe the restrictions for this celebration.

Remarks: Chants can be added:

The Eucharistic Meal is solemnized by a Celebrant.

  • Before consecration:

Choir:

Eat this Bread, drink this Cup; come to Me and never

be hungry. Eat My Flesh and drink My Blood; trust in Me

and you will never thirst!

(Followed by silence)

After consecration:

All: "I am the bread of life, the true bread sent from the Father.

Your ancestors ate manna in the desert, but this is the bread come down from heaven.

Eat My Flesh and drink My Blood and I will raise you up on the last day.

Anyone who eats this Bread, will live for ever.

If you believe and eat this Bread, you will have eternal life."

Choir: "Eat this Bread..."

(Holy Communion in silence - an appropriate quiet background-music can be played)

- After communion: Dona nobis pacem, Domine.

(Grant us peace, Lord)

(Followed by silence)

Choir: "Dona nobis..."

All: "Blest are they who bring peace, for they shall be called the children of God."

Choir: "Dona nobis..."

All: "Peace I leave with you, says the Lord, My peace I give you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. I will be with you always."

Choir: "Dona nobis..."

All: "Lord Jesus Christ, You said to Your Apostles: `I leave you peace, My peace I give to you.' Look not on our sins, but on the faith of Your Church and grant us the peace and unity of Your Kingdom. Amen!"

Choir: "Dona nobis..."

Leader: As our Savior Christ has taught us, we are confident to say:

All: Our Father in heaven,

honored be Your name.

Your Kingdom come.

Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins,

as we also have forgiven those who have sinned against us;

and lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from the evil one.

Leader: Eternal Light, shine into our hearts;

Eternal Goodness, deliver us from evil;

Eternal Power, be our support;

Eternal Wisdom, scatter the darkness of our ignorance;

Eternal Piety, have mercy upon us;

that with all our heart and mind and strength we may seek your

face and be brought by Your infinite love to your holy presence;

through Your Son Jesus Christ.

And may the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

be with us all, now and forever more.

All: Amen.

Leader: Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

All: In the name of Christ. Amen.

11. The Passion of our Lord Jesus the Christ

Jesus' arrest (Jn 18,1-13)

Narrator: Jesus left with His disciples and went across the brook called

Kidron. There was a garden in that place, and Jesus and His discip-

les went in. Judas, the traitor, knew where it was, because many

times Jesus had met there with His disciples. So Judas went to the

garden, taking with him some temple guards sent by the

chief priests and the Pharisees; they were armed and

carried lanterns and torches. Jesus knew everything that was

going to happen to Him, so He stepped forward (and asked them):

Jesus: What is it you are looking for?

Soldier 1: Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus: I am He.

Narrator: Judas, the traitor, was standing there with them. When Jesus said to

them, "I am," they moved back and fell to the ground. Again Jesus

asked them:

Jesus: Who is it you are looking for?

Soldier 2:Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus: I have already told you that I am He. If, then, you are looking for

me, let these others go.

Narrator: He said this so that what He had said might come true: "Father, I

have not lost even one of those You gave Me."

Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the High Priest's

servant, cutting off his ear. The name of the slave was Malchus.

Jesus: Put your sword back in its place! Do you think that I will not drink

the cup of suffering which My Father has given Me?

Narrator: Then the Jewish guards arrested

Jesus, bound Him, and took Him away.

Peter denies Jesus (John 18,12-27)

Narrator: They took Him first to Annas.

He was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was High Priest that year.

It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jewish authorities that is was

better that one man should die for all the people.

Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. That other disciple

was well known to the High Priest, so he went with Jesus into the

courtyard of the High Priest's house, while Peter stayed outside by

the gate. Then the other disciple went back out, spoke to the girl

at the gate, and brought Peter inside. The girl at the gate said to

Peter:

Girl: Aren't you also one of the disciples of that man?

Peter: No, I am not.

Narrator: It was cold, so the servants and guards had built a charcoal fire

and were standing round it, warming themselves. So Peter went over

and stood with them, warming himself.

(PAUSE – meditation)

The High Priest questioned Jesus about His disciples and about His

teaching.

Jesus: I have always spoken publicly to everyone; all My teaching was done

in the synagogues and in the Temple, where all the people come

together. I thought openly. Why, then, do you question Me? Question

the people who heard Me. Ask them what I told them - they knew

what I said.

Narrator: When Jesus said this, one of the guards there slapped Him:

Guard: How dare You talk like that to the High Priest!

Jesus: If I have said anything wrong, tell everyone here what it was. But if I am right in what I

have said, why do you hit Me?

Narrator: Then Annas sent Him, still bound, to Caiaphas the High Priest.

(PAUSE ...)

Peter was still standing there keeping himself warm. (So an other

said to him:)

Person 1: Aren't you also one of the disciples of that man?

Peter: No. I am not.

Narrator: One of the High Priest's servant, a relative of the man whose ear

Peter had cut off, spoke up:

Person 2: Didn't I see you with Him in the garden?

Peter: No!

Narrator

(slowly):And at once a cock crowed.

Jesus brought before the Council

(Lk 22,63-71)

Narrator: The men who were guarding Jesus mocked Him and beat Him .

They blindfolded Him and asked Him:

Guard: Who hit you? Guess!

Narrator: And they said many other insulting things to Him.

(PAUSE ....)

When they came, the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the Law met together

and Jesus was brought before the Council.

Lawyer: Tell us, are you the Messiah?

Jesus: If I tell you will not believe me; and if I ask you a question, you will not answer. But from

now on the Son of Man will be seated on the right hand of Almighty God.

Lawyer: Are you, then, the Son of God?

Jesus: You say that I am.

Lawyer: We don't need any witnesses! We ourselves have heard what He said!

Jesus is brought before Pilate (Jn 18,28--19,16)

Narrator: Early in the morning Jesus was taken to the

governor's palace. The Jewish authorities did not go inside the

palace, for they wanted to keep themselves ritually clean, in order

to be able to eat the Passover meal. So Pilate went outside to them:

Pilate: What do you accuse this man of?

Priest: We would not have brought Him to you if He had not committed a

crime.

Pilate: Then you yourselves take Him and try Him according to your own law.

Priest: We are not allowed to put anyone to death.

(PAUSE ...)

Narrator: Pilate went back into the palace and called Jesus.

Pilate: Are You the King of the Jews?

Jesus: Does this question come from you or have others told you about Me?

Pilate: Do You think I am a Jew? It was Your own people and the chief

priests who handed You over to me. What have You done?

Jesus: My Kingdom does not belong to this world; if My Kingdom belonged to

this world, My followers would fight to keep Me from being handed

over to the Jewish authorities. No, My Kingdom does not belong here!

Pilate: Are You a King, then?

(PAUSE ...)

Jesus: You say that I am a King. I was born and came into the world for this

one purpose, to speak about the truth. Whoever belongs to the truth

listen to Me.

Pilate (slowly):And what is truth?

(PAUSE ...)

Narrator: Then Pilate went back outside to the people.

Pilate: I cannot find any reason to condemn Him. But according to the custom

you have, I always set free a prisoner for you during the Passover.

Do you want me to set free the King of the Jews?

Priest: No, not Him!

Crowd: We want Barrabas!

Narrator:

(slowly) Barrabas was a bandit.

(PAUSE ...)

Then Pilate took Jesus and had Him whipped. The soldier made a crown

out of thorny branches and put it on His head; then they put a

purple robe on Him and came to Him.

Soldiers: Long live the King of the Jews!

Narrator: And they went up and slapped Him.

Pilate went out once more and said to the crowd:

Pilate: Look, I will bring Him out here to you to see that I cannot find any

reason to condemn Him.

Narrator: So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe.

Pilate: Look! Here is the man!

Narrator: When the chief priests and the temple guards saw Him, they shouted:

Priest: Crucify Him!

Crowd: Crucify Him!

Pilate: You take Him, then, and crucify Him. I find no reason to condemn

Him.

Priest: We have a law that says He ought to die, because He claimed to be

the Son of God.

Narrator: When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid. He went back into

the palace (and asked Jesus:)

Pilate: Where do You come from?

Narrator: But Jesus did not answer.

(PAUSE ...)

Pilate: You will not speak to me? Remember, I have the authority to set You

free and also to have You crucified.

Jesus: You have authority over Me only because it was given to you by God.

So the man who handed Me over to you is guilty of a worse sin.

Narrator: When Pilate heard this, he tried to find a way to set Jesus free.

But the crowd shouted back:

Priest: If you set Him free, that means that you are not the Emperor's

friend!

Crowd: Anyone who claims to be a king is a rebel against the Emperor!

Narrator: When Pilate heard these words, he took Jesus outside and sat down on

the judge's seat in the palace called `The Stone Pavement.' In

Hebrew the name is Gabbatha. It was then almost noon of the day

before the Passover.

Pilate: (to all) Here is your king!

Priest: Kill Him!

Crowd: Kill Him!

Priest: Crucify Him!

Pilate: Do you want me to crucify your king?

Priest: The only king we have is the Emperor!

Narrator: Then Pilate handed Jesus over to them to be crucified.

Jesus is crucified (Jn 19,17-30)

Narrator: Jesus went out, carrying His cross, and came to `The Place of the

Skull', as it is called. In Hebrew it is called Golgotha.' There

they crucified Him; and they also crucified two other men, one on

each side, with Jesus between them. Pilate wrote a notice and had it

put on the cross.

Pilate: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.

Narrator: Many people read it, because the place where Jesus was crucified was

not far from the city. The notice was written in Hebrew, Latin and

Greek. The chief priests said to Pilate:

Priest: Do not write `The King of the Jews,' but rather, `This man said, I

am the King of the Jews.'

Pilate: What I have written stays written.

Narrator: After the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took His clothes and

divided them among themselves, one part for each soldier. They also

took the robe, which was made of one piece of woven cloth without

any seams in it.

Soldiers: (to one another) Let's not tear it.

Let's throw dice to see who will get it.

Narrator: This happened in order to make the scripture come true: "They

divided My clothes among themselves and gambled for My robe."

And this what the soldiers did.

(PAUSE ...)

Standing close to Jesus' cross were His mother, His mother's sister,

Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary Magdalene. Jesus saw His mother and

the disciple He loved standing there; so He said to His mother:

Jesus: He is your son!

Narrator: Then He said to the disciple:

Jesus: She is your mother!

Narrator: From that time the disciple took her to live in his home.

(PAUSE ...)

Jesus knew that by now everything had been completed; and in order

to make the scripture come true, He said:

Jesus: I am thirsty.

Narrator: A bowl was there, full of cheap wine; so a sponge was soaked in the

wine, put on a stalk of hyssop, and lifted up to His lips. Jesus

said:

Jesus: It is finished!

Narrator: Then He bowed His head and died.

(LONG PAUSE ...)

Narrator: The Jewish authorities asked Pilate to allow them to break the legs

of the men who had been crucified, and to take the bodies down from

the crosses. They requested this because it was Friday, and they did

not wanted the bodies to stay on the cross on the Sabbath, since the

Sabbath was especially holy. So the soldiers went and broke the legs

of the first man and then of the other man who had been crucified

with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus, they saw that He was already dead, so they did

not break His legs. One of the soldiers, however, plunged His spear into Jesus' side, and at

once blood and water poured out.

Apostle: The one who saw this happen has spoken of it, so that you also may

believe. What he said is true, and he knows that he speaks the

truth.

Narrator: This was done to make the scripture come true: "Not one of His bones

will be broken."

And there is another scripture: "People will look at Him whom they

pierced."

After this, Joseph, who was from the town of Arimathea, asked Pilate

if he could take Jesus' body.

Apostle: Joseph was a follower of Jesus, but in secret, because he was afraid

of the Jewish authorities.

Narrator: Pilate told him he could have the body, so Joseph went and took it

away. Nicodemus, who at first had gone to see Jesus at night, went

with Joseph, taking with him about thirty kilograms of spices, a

mixture of myrrh and aloes. The two men took Jesus' body and wrapped

it in linen with the spices according to the Jewish custom of pre-

paring a body for burial. There was a garden in the place where

Jesus had been put to death, and in it there was a new tomb where

no one had ever been buried. Since it was the day before the Sabbath

and because the tomb was close by, they placed Jesus' body there.

Narrator: This is the Gospel of the Lord.

Congregation: Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ!

  1. Occult practices (cont. `Church 1')

a. Iridology

Iridology, or iris diagnosis, is a method of diagnosing disease or ill-health by inspection of iris topography.

The mystique of alternative medicine draws more and more people in the realm of the occult.

Iridology is an alternative medicine.

History:

Iris diagnosis was the brain-child of Ignatz von Peczely of Hungary (19th cent.). According to his `observation' each of the fiber of the iris acts its part by registering a sign or coloration through the prompting of some body organ.

In the 19th century, Iridology spread quickly to Germany and in the 20th century to the New World.

The 19th century proved to be the age of great occult discoveries: Homeopathy, phrenology (bumps and shapes of the head used in diagnosis), Iridology, etc.

Theory of Iridology:

According to this `science' all parts of the body has a representation within the retina.

a. A so called `Iridology chart' has been developed, according to which the left side of the body is reflected in the left eye and the right side of the body in the right eye.

This alone contradicts virtually all other neuro-anatomical arrangements according to which the control of the right side is done by the left side of the brain and so on.

There are no less than 19 charts developed by different iridologists - these charts have major deviations and admittedly even iridologist can not agree on these differences.

b. A pseudo-anatomy has been developed according to which the iris has a direct relationship to every part of the body.

This distorted use of anatomy can appear quite logical to any patient who has not studied anatomy. [That the `minute parasymphatetic portion of the third cranial nerve' can carry adequate fibers to represent all portions of the body does not appear to be a problem!]

c. Etc., etc., etc.

Some of the well known iridologist of our century: Jensen; Hall; Piesse*, etc.

* He admits that "after 100 years of iris diagnosis there is no scientific basis for the CULT*" and yet he believes in it.

There has been no controlled clinical trials of its efficacy. No attempt has been made to prove the efficacy of the technique in an acceptable scientific manner.

* Cult is a particular form of a system (religious or others) cultivated `religiously' by devoted adherents. It promises to deliver `things' which according to science it cannot. That is, what it delivers is spiritual, rather than scientific - in our case, medically-scientific.

There is only two spiritual sources where man can receive information - Iridology is not used by the Holy Spirit to reveal any so called illnesses.

The technique of iris diagnosis (brief summary):

1. Concentric divisions of the iris (see figure 1);

2. Radial fiber structure (see figure 2) - basically, the finer the fiber the better the state of health;

3. Iris lesions and weakness-signs are, for example, signs of inflammation;

4. Representation of the body-parts in the iris - this chart diagrammically places all organs within the iris;

5. The automatic nerve wreath - its eccentric contractions or expansions act as an indicator for the site of a diseased organ.

Above all this, the iris is said to show signs of past, present and FUTURE disturbances of the state of health.

One of the latest scientific study* into Iridology (see Simon A. `An evaluation of Iridology'; JAMA**, 1989, 242) arrives at the following conclusion:

"Iridology had no clinical or statistically significant ability to detect the presence of kidney (or other) disease. Iridology was neither selective nor specific and the likelihood of correct detection was statistically no better than chance."

* This study included a testing of three prominent iridologists to detect mild or moderate renal disorders. It is of interest, that one of these iridologists diagnosed over 80% of the healthy test-patients as having renal disease!

** Medical Journal.

`Iridology consists of numerous claims unsupported, unscientific, without pathological or anatomical correlation.'

It is important that we do not dismiss Iridology as `utter nonsense,' without first explaining and denigrating it. The people who promoting it are super-salesmen!

A further study...

Definition and characteristics of sects/ cults

For the Christian the most significant component of a cult/sect is theological in nature. This is so because the basic issue of truth and error are involved. The Christian must be able to discern truth from error - discerning of spirits (see 1 Cor 12,10c).

Cultic groups and sects are very diverse. To deal with this diversity we have to use broad categories or divisions. There will be some overlap in some cases between categories and there will always be some groups that are exceptions to the generalized category.

The categories:

1. Western Pseudo-Christian Exclusivist groups;

2. Extreme Christian (Extreme Religious) Fringe Groups;

3. Human Potential Groups;

4. New Age Groups;

5. Eastern Mystical Groups;

6. Occults Groups;

7. A combination of the above mentioned.

A few general statements:

1. A sect comes out of an established group and carries with it many of the major teachings and/or practices of the original group.

2. Cults commence independently of another group - there is generally no clear distinguishable continuity or link between a cult and major established church or denomination.

The following characteristics, techniques or practices are generally found in most cults and sects.

Not all cults/sects will be equally characterized by all of the following, but most will reveal many of them with varying intensity:

1. They are leader, or leadership centered and dominated, usually by persons claiming some divine appointment or authority. While members are accountable to the leadership, the leadership is not accountable to anyone else. Leaders often make significant decisions for members.

2. The leadership generally claims supernatural insights, divine revelations - often superseding sacred scripture (scriptures are often replaced, misused, reinterpreted). The leaders claim superior knowledge to that available to ordinary members. Leaders may be believed to be omniscient and have supernatural powers (among other things, healing powers).

3. The groups are often aggressive in recruiting new members and in increasing finances. They even use various forms of deceptions, including infiltrating established churches or religious groups, in order to increase both. This also adds to the power of the leadership. Members are often also asked to contribute all possessions or large sums of money.

4. The groups are often characterized by some form of secrecy - hidden agendas, teachings and practices for the member which are not available for the general public. Esoteric aspects kept from outsiders and newcomers until they become entrenched members.

5. Double standards are often an integral part of such groups - one standard, privileges, luxuries and the like for the leadership and a (often very) different standard for members. Often one standard for the public and another for group members (even justification for deceiving non-members). All too often double standards involve moral values at one extreme or another.

6. Most such groups have a persecution complex in which all questioning or criticism, disagreement or non-conformity is regarded as a threat and generally results in claiming of persecution, discrimination or vilification. Sometimes extreme measures are taken to silence all critics and opponents.

7. These groups generally present themselves as having the answers to all of life's complex issues. They promise "the world" and can be very persuasive, though their claim cannot stand close scrutiny, questioning or deep thought.

8. Most such groups present either an unrealistic hope with utopian claims and promises, or they use fear and uncertainty, possibly claims of the imminent end of the world and the promise that they alone have the truth that leads to salvation in order to attract and keep members. Many, if not most, are characterized by extreme religious exclusivity.

9. Many such groups use impressive public promotion and propaganda to present a positive image to the public. They often seek official endorsement by academics, politicians and community leaders who are shown just what the group wants them to see and kept from discovering negative elements.

10. These groups often use intensive emotional techniques to entice newcomers and endeavor to maintain emotional intensity to lessen any critical thought, analysis or questioning.

11. Such groups build a suspicion of all outsiders, including natural family, in the minds of new members and use a variety of methods to separate members from their normal support systems - family, friends, social and educational contacts and environment - to increase the member's dependency on the group and its leadership.

12. In many of these groups, natural parents and family members are criticized, condemned, or rejected and replaced by the group as the better or true family. Sometimes a complete new name and change of identity is provided for members so that there is a complete separation from the past and dependency on the group and its leadership is reinforced.

13. Behavior modification techniques and high powered salesmanship are often used to gain and control new members.

14. Long hours are often given to extensive studies promoting a sense of deeper knowledge and elitism and further separation from others and the past.

15. Repetitive techniques of chanting or singing and the effective use of music are often used to induce an altered state of consciousness, mood and emotional control and the elimination of active thought processes.

16. Exhaustion and fatigue are often induced through prolonged mental, emotional and physical activities, limited or interrupted sleep (late to bed and up in the early hours of the morning), long working hours followed by long reading/study sessions or meditating/chanting sessions and the like.

17. Fear and intimidation is a major control technique used by such groups. Negativity, non-conformity, non-compliance may result in humiliation and ridicule by the leadership in front of other members. Physical punishment - of adults and especially of children - again, often before others, may also occur. Psychological and spiritual threats of God's punishments or satan's seduction are often invoked on those who question too much or who leave. Those who leave are treated as apostates and often completely shunned (even by family members in the group).

18. Group pressure and dynamics are often used to ensure conformity - the individual must deny him/herself for the greater good of the group. Conformity in behavior, values, beliefs, dress, social activities and standards are all reinforced through group dynamics, group confession and other techniques to destroy individuality are common.

19. Communal living provides a greater controlled environment, ensures greater separation of the members from their socio-cultural and spiritual support system that present an alternative to the group and deepens the power and control of the leadership.

To acknowledge:

Each religious group has elements of its own uniqueness which make some of its characteristics exceptional and in contrast to those stated, or where characteristics may validly apply but with some modification or further explanation.

God holds the key to all unknown... those who are Christians turn in trust to God!

b. Other means to find out about the future:

a. Astrology: Ancient astrology, practiced by the Babylonians, Egyptians and several South American Indian groups, involved worship of heavenly bodies as deities. Today astrologers have modified this to a belief in cosmic/electromagnetic forces which guide the destinies of the universe and all that is in it – including man. Therefore, according to astrology, the position of the stars (etc) when a person is born is of great importance and a person is always tied up with the alignment of the stars and planets. Living in harmony with the universe becomes the all-important thing..!

There are many good aims and desires involved with those who take astrology seriously. That is part of the subtlety..! Satan very seldom comes out into the open – half truth is the secret of his success.

b. Numerology: Modern numerology involves finding your "vibratory number" – the vibrations have to be right before you do anything. Some numerology "helps" you to self-understanding, some to find guidance for the future..!

c. Palmistry is another well-known way of foretelling the future. Four main line on the hand are each given a special significance and meaning. Palm readers also see seven sections on the hand which are divided astrologically by the planets. According to palmistry, the way a man opens his fist and extends his hand is an indication of his character and a sign of his future..!

d. Card reading: The cards are related to astrology. The 78 illustrated Tarot cards are divided into Major (22 cards) and the Minor (56 cards) Arcana. We will omit the process. During this process, the participant(s) are feeling hot, cool, prickly, etc. These feelings are attributed to the reader's and the cards' vibration. Interpreting the vibrations, the positions of the cards, etc. will give the answer of the seeker.

e. Crystal ball, tea-leaves, etc.: In the Old Testament there are other forms of future telling mentioned, see Ez 21,21. We have a clear reference of three particular forms of divination: Rhabdomancy, using sticks or the diving rod; consulting images and hepatoscopy, using the liver of a sacrificial animal.

Today, with the popularity of Eastern religions, many people have their household gods – statues of the Buddha, bizarre paintings, etc. (see Ez 21,21).

f. Other forms of divination: pendulums, divining rods, throwing sticks, throwing coins, etc. Many of these occult practices are connected to I CHING, or the Book of Changes. While doing the above mentioned practices (for instance, shaking sticks) the practitioner consults various sections the above mentioned book. It helps to find the answer to the question of the seeker.

g. Telephaty and other methods of seeing the future and connect with the dead are also common occult practices.

h. Spiritism:

Definition: Is communication with the dead.

The Bible reveals that the Ancient Egyptians, were practitioners of magic, sorcery and necromancy (predicting the future by means of communicating with the dead). The people of God are warned against consulting mediums or wizards.

There are two opposite errors into which people can fall about the devil. One is to disbelieve in his existence. The other is to believe and to develop and unhealthy interest in him.

Terms frequently used:

Trance: A condition in which a spiritist medium (allegedly) loses consciousness and passes under control of some external forces (called a control spirit), for the (supposed) transmission of communications from the dead, or messages for an individual or a group.

Medium: A person possessing an unusual amount of psychic ability, (supposedly) enabling him/her /them to make contact with the spirit world.

Sιance: A meeting at which a group of spiritists attempt to make communication with the spirit of the dead. The messages can come as: Planchette (a small board on wheels) writing; automatic writing – the medium's hand is guided in composing the message; table rapping – during the sence a rapping noise occur which is interpreted as spirit-message; etc.

Beliefs of spiritists:

  • All dead people become spirits and enter the spirit-world. There is no hell.
  • There are spirits to assists you to climb to a higher level.
  • God is a spirit like every one else, but is evolved to a higher level. He is not a person, but the creative universal spirit.
  • Jesus is the master medium, not the savior.
  • Man has no savior but himself. He has to make his own amends.
  1. Spiritualism: Both, spiritism and spiritualism attempt to communicate with the dead but spiritualist are people who profess to believe in the Bible and open their meetings with prayer, sing hymns, etc.

The emphasis on self-dependence denies the need for a Saviour and negates the meaning of Jesus' death and resurrection.

Denies the Bible as the unique written Word of God – they choose to go to a spirit for instruction.

In order to embrace the teaching of Spiritualism, one would need to reject major doctrines of the Christian faith, particularly the authority of the Bible, the Trinity, the Deity of Christ, the Atonement and the Bodily Resurrection of Jesus.

As a conclusion read: Jn 8,44; Lev 20,6; Deut 18,10-12; 1 Thess 4,14-17; 2 Cor 4,4.

What does God have to say about these future-seekers? See Ps 19 – what do the heavens tell us?

Hebrews 1,2-3; Colossians 1,15-17 - who sustains the universe? 2 Kings 23,5; Isaiah 47,10-15: Jeremiah 27,9-10 – what is God's attitude towards false prophets, dreamers, etc.? See also Matthew 6,24-34; Jhn 16,13-15.33b; Philippians 4,6-7.11-13; 1 John 5,4-5.10-12. Christians turn everything over to God in prayer. Jesus gives us guidance and direction for living. In Jesus, we have assurance and victory. Joshua 24,15: "...choose this day whom you will serve,...but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!"

j. Clairvoance: Alleged ability to perceive objects or events that are beyond the recognized range of the sense organs. This is also a fairly common occult practice.

c. The Urantia Book

The Urantia Book, published in Chicago (USA). It is divided into four parts:

  1. The Central and Superuniverse;
  2. The Local Universe;
  3. The History of Urantia;
  4. The Life and Teaching of Jesus.

The Urantia Book was supposedly brought to the earth by superhuman, divine beings in 1934. The purpose of the book is claimed to be a clarification of man's "divine and eternal destiny" (Basic Concepts, p.1).

The book `tells' of the origin and evolution of the central and super-universes, our local universe and Urantia, as well as the teaching of Jesus Himself. The Foundation (behind this book) claims this account of Chrtist's life is "much more complete than that of the New Testament, but not contradictory" (Basic Concepts, p.30). This information is said to be supplied by "a sort of guardian angel of the Apostle Andrew" (ibid).

The evolution of the world taking place in the many universes of the Urantia Book involves both matter and personalities. These personalities exist on millions of planets and spheres. The Urantia Book Teaches that these beings were created by a god who wishes to share the joy and adventure of beings to the furthest extent possible. This god dwells in the Isle of Paradise located in the center of the universe of universes.

The Urantia Book teaches also that this creator-god created the son and the spirit and yet they existed eternally (contradiction in re). Proceeding from this creation, he "down stepped himself further in the creation of many additional divine personalities, less than absolute, more and more nearly approaching the finite (Basic Concepts, p.2). This resembles to the theology of the Gnostic cult, who plagued Christianity in the first few centuries A.D. They believed that the infinite god was manifested in finite personal emenitions which became less perfect as they got further away from god, until at a very low level they took the form of the material world and its creatures.

Man's destiny is said to be from animal to angel, from angel to to spirit, from spirit to god. This resembles the Hindu system of transmigration where a soul is seen to pass from the lowest stages to humanity and from humanity to godhood and from godhood to Brahman (the impersonal god).

After this life we pass through millions of other spheres of training. The next one is the mansion-world of satania.

The mortal ascension plan is a two way proposition (Basic Concepts, p.3): It includes the up-reach or striving of man and the down-reach of god, which comes in the form of perfect beings who add to their natures by ministering to ascenders on the path of paradise. This help is basically consists in pointing us to the way by which we ourselves can attain perfection. Even the ministry and mission of Jesus Himself is seen in this light.

This brings us to one of the most central points of difference between the Urantia Book and Biblical Christianity: In the Bible, Christ is not a "way shower," but "the way" (Jn 14,6.7).

In the Urantia Book Christ is one of the divine sons of this god who incarnated himself to Urantia in order to help us mortals. This incarnation was the seventh. Through these seven incarnations Jesus enriched His divine and perfect personality.

Among other thing, the atoning death of Jesus on the cross, is missing. This is because Urantia teaches salvation by self effort: "We must earn every inch of progress, by study and training under the guidance of angels and other competent teachers (gurus?)..." (Basic Concepts, p.2).

As do all non-Christian cult systems, Urantia denies the essential Gospel message, that Christ died for our sins, 1 Cor 15,1-3. "Jesus did not come to Urantia to placate a god of wrath, nor to offer himself as a ransom by dying on the cross. The cross was wholly man's doing, not god's requirement" (Basic Concepts, p. 3).

While the Bible teaches that the Blood of Christ, shed on the cross, is the only means to justification, redemption and forgiveness before God (Rom 5,9; Eph 1,17: Hebr 9,22).

The Urantia Book states: "he barbarous idea of appeasing an angry God, of propitiating an offended Lord, of winning the favor of Deity through sacrifices and penance and even by the sahedding of blood, represents a religion wholly pueril and primitive, a philosophy unworthy of an enlightened abe of science and truth. Such beliefs are utter repulsive to the celestial beings and the divine rules who serve and reign in the universes. T is an affront to God to believe, hold, or teach that innocent blood must be shed in order to win His favor or to divert the fictious divine wrath" (Urantia Book, p.60).

In the course of this book, almost every distinctive doctrine of the historic Christian faith is repudiated. Here some example:

  • p.17 – "There dwells within the human mind a fragment of God." - This is a pantheistic concept, not taught in the Bible.
  • p.53 – Jesus Christ is not identified as being uniquely God the Son, second person of the Holy Trinity. Instead he is Michael, one of many god the sons.
  • p.67 – All world religions "are of value in that they are valid approaches to the religion of Jesus." - This negates the Biblical affirmation that salvation may be found in Jesus alone (Acts 4,12).
  • p.838 – Reliability of Scripture and the fall of man are both denied.
  • pp.1144-1145 – The Christian doctrine of the Trinity is denied.
  • pp.2023-2-24 – The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is denied.
  • p. 1005 – "The cardinal religious ideas of – inspiration, revelation, propitiation, repentance, atonement, intercession, sacrifice, prayer, confession, worship, survival after death, sacrament, ritual, ransom, salvation, redemption, covenant, uncleaness, purification, porophesy, original sin – they all go back to the early times of primordial ghost fear." The author destroys the ahole Christian religion in one sentence!

All the challenging and disconcerting implications that the Christian Gospel holds for man in active rebellion against a holy and just God are neatly swept away as primitive "ghost fears." The space age gnosticism of fallen man – assuring him that in the twentieth century we have long since evolved beyond the notion that man must answer for actions to a personal and moral God. The author and follower of Urantia Book "professing themselves to be wise, they became fools" (Rom 1,22)..."the world through its wisdom did not come to know God" (1 Cor 1,21).

"But even though we, or an angel from heaven, would preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed" (Gal 1,8).

d. Shamanism

The term derives from `sramana' (a Sanskrit word meaning ascetic).

The Shaman is a "medicine man" with satanic powers of healing, for-teling the future – paranormal phenomena. These gift are often hereditary.

Shamanism is world-wide spread. Performances include dancing, mediumistic trance, spirit possession and the power of astral travel.

The role of the shaman (and shamaness) became the subject of a new movement in the West that began in the 1980s primarily through the work of Michael Harder who developed (with the help of others) a neo-Shamanism that draws many in the New Age movement. Many of these neo-ideas are coming from the North American Indian culture, esoteric tradition.

Variation of this occult practice was recently introduced to Australia by a Queensland family who studied the ancient techniques with the Sioux Indians.

This new Australian endeavor is presently trying to connect this Indian-spirituality with that of the Aboriginal pagan traditions, spirituality – for example, the involvement of animal symbols like spider, snake, the journey to the centre...etc.

What is the `sweat-lodge'?

The sweat-lodge is a ritual associated with the North American Indians. Hot stones are carried into an igloo-shaped lodge and water poured over them to radiate heat. Singing and drumming are integral part of the ceremony. It also include smoking a traditional pipe filled with willow bark... this has some dragging effect. This whole ceremony induces (prepares for ) visionary experiences and help to seek and find spiritual help.

What is the so called Vision Quest?

It is a meditation, starting with `sweat-lodge,' by which by emptying the mind one finds peace. Facing East one sings and keeps vigil – this helps to `map out' our future-life-path.

Connection to modern psychology especially the branche called "Me Psychology." It is suggested that a New Age psychology and psychiatry can (and will) incorporate (at least some of) the above mentioned Shaman practices.

This occult practice involves, among other things, spiritism, psychic powers, clairvoyance, out of body experiences, etc.

See other information about related occult practices and the Biblical position on such practices.

The Bahai- faith

1. Origin:

Originated by Mirza Ali Muhammed, later known as the Bab or the 'Gate.' In 1844 he proclaimed that "God the Exalted had elected him to the station of Babhood." After his death (executed in 1850) one of his follower, Mirza Husayn Ali, later known as Baha'u'llah (the glory of god) assumed leadership. In 1863 (in Baghdad) announced that he "was the one whose coming had been foretold by the Bab – the chosen of god, the promised one of all the prophets." After his death there were several notable leaders of this faith.

  1. Some of the principles of the faith:
  • the oneness of mankind;
  • the oneness of religion;
  • the independent search after the truth;
  • a World Commonwealth;
  • world peace;
  • the relinquishing of prejudice;
  • a universal auxiliary language;
  • equality of sexes;
  • the harmony of religion and sexes;
  • education opportunities for every person;
  • the endeavor to equalize the distribution of wealth.
  1. All are one:

The Baha'i teaching is that all religions are in essence one. "Christ was the prophet of Christians, Moses of the Jews - why should not the followers of each prophet recognize and honor the other prophets too?" (Abdu'l Baha, "The Wisdom of Abdu'l Baha," p. 128).

  1. Manifestation and not incarnation:

The Baha'i faith believes in progressive revelation. God periodically sends his prophets to guide and assist mankind. This prophet or manifestation of god bring laws and teachings which apply to the needs of man at his particular time but which are not necessarily meant to be permanent. "Every age hath its own problem, and every soul its particular aspiration. The remedy the world needeth in its present-day afflictions can never be the same as that which a subsequent age may require. Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in, and center your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements" (Baha'i World Faith, p.36).

Baha'is do not accept Jesus Christ as the incarnate God and reject all Christian teachings of this by explaining that His disciples perverted His word and teachings.

Baha'is believe Baha'u'llah to be the culmination of god's manifestation for this day and to be superior in the revelations he brought. The writings of Baha'u'llah, since they are god's last manifestations, are considered to have final authority. "The revelation of Jesus was for His own dispensation - that of 'the Son'. Now it is no longer the point of guidance to the world. We are in total darkness if we refuse the revelation of the present dispensation. Bah'is must be severed from all and everything that is past-things both good and bad-every-thing. Now all is changed. All the teaching of the past are past" (From the Star of the West, December 31. 1913).

Baha'u'llah's denial of the incarnation biblically classifies him as a false prophet. The Bible also says in 1 John 2,22.23 that those who deny the Son also deny the Father and call all liars who deny Jesus.

  1. Resurrection:

The Baha'i faith denies the bodily resurrection and justifies the Biblical accounts by saying it was a spiritual resurrection of the disciples faith after Jesus Christ's death,

  1. The Second Coming:

"If you are of the Christian faith which had its origin approximately in the year 1, your prophecy concerning the 'return of Christ in the glory of the Father' has been fulfilled. His new name in this day is Baha'u'llah, which means, 'the glory of god'" ("One Universal Faith" – Baha'i Publishing Trust).

Compare the following Biblical statements: Philippians 2,9-11; Isaiah 45,23; Matthew 24,29-31; Romans 14,1—12; 2 Corinthians 5,10; 2 Peter 3,10-13; Matthew 24,35; Revelation 21,1; 2 Peter 3,10.13, etc.

  1. Jesus Christ is God's only provision:

The four major areas satan undermines the Gospel are:

  • the sovereignty of God;
  • the deity of Jesus;
  • the final authority of God's Word;
  • the Second Coming of Christ.

These remain the same in every cult as in the Baha'i faith.

"There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4,12).

Baha'i faith is a cult, a false religion and Baha'u'llah is a false prophet – compare 1 John 7.

A Christian must always make an informed decision ... a decision based on Biblical Principles!

The decision, which soon has to be made, is a political one: In our Two-Party Political System Socialism versus Liberalism.

Liberalism: An ideology professing freedom from a government that  restricts, endangers, removes personal freedom. Liberal movements led to establishment of many governments based on rule by law and by the consent of the governed.  Such constitutional governments have detailed bills of rights that proclaims the individual's right to freedom of speech, the press, assembly and religion. The bills of rights also attempted to provide safeguard against the abuse of the state.

Political and economic liberalism: "The government that governs least governs best." Economy is self-regulating - individuals must be allowed to develop to their full potential.

Socialism: An economic and political system. In contrast to Liberalism, Socialism emphasizes Collectivism. That is, not the right of the individual but that of the collective (state) is in the foreground. One of the greatest ideological influences, in developing Socialism, has the German Social Philosopher, Karl Marx (+1883). In his book, The Capital, he developed a socialist ideology which led to the ideology of Communism. Moderate Socialism is being considered as a stage in the development to Communist societies. Lenin (+1924) radicalized the above mentioned ideology and founded the Soviet Communist State.

The Capital: It is a sizable book of Marx and we can  offer only a few relevant thoughts. In states where Socialism rules in its extreme form, this book is considered "The Bible of the State."

 "Religion is opium for the people."  Being a West European, Marx was referring to Christianity. According to his opinion, Christianity is a poisonous drug, it is harmful and has to be eliminated. Radical socialism performed this idea literally and done everything to wipe out the Church.

Coercion is necessary because people must be forced to be good citizens. Personal freedom emphasized in Liberalism gives away in Socialism to the loss of individual freedom.

To fulfill Socialist ideas the major means of production has to be placed in the hands of the people, that is, in the hands of the state. Personal ownership is being replaced by state-owned enterprises. This led, in the extreme form of Socialism, to nationalization of private enterprises and even  private property.

Labor Unions: The chief aims of a labor (socialist) union are to improve the wages, hours, working conditions and job security of its members. When the unions were established, during the start of the so called Industrial Revolution (18th century),  they were a legitimate organization, protecting the rights of the workers. In our days it is a different matter:  Most unions insist on being the sole representative of a particular group of employees. They do not want to share the representation of the workers with any other group. In Australia (not just), under the labor government, in industries, where unions are firmly established, the newly joining workers were forced (coerced) to join the union. That is, they could not be employed unless they became members of the union. Such forced-unionism is contradictory to individual  freedom and has no place in a democratic society. Under the labor government the labor unions created an atmosphere of enmity between workers and employers, the atmosphere of confrontation and not cooperation. There is not a with-each-other but an against-each-other. The socialist labor unions are relics of a long past era.

In a democratic system elections are extremely important. The individual citizen, the individual Christian has an obligation to vote and vote according to Biblical principles. That is, for example, not according to 'what is better for my back-pocket' * but what is acceptable according to  Christian principles. Why do we emphasize Biblically based principles? Many people are going to church (and are even in leading position in the church), but not live and think Biblically. How can anyone claim to be a Christian and follow the believes of Evolution, Socialism, approve homosexuality, are members of Free Masonry, not believe in the Virgin Birth, etc.

* The present political atmosphere, created by both parties, where the opponents are trying to out-bet each other, is deplorable.

And finally who is a Christian?  The person is a Christian who gave his /her life to Jesus the Christ and live and think according to His principles (according to Biblical principles).

C

SERMONS REPORTS TEACHINGS I

This booklet is a result of (1) the leading of an Australian parish and it often reflects its life (see cont. in Ser 2) and (2) everyday events which had to be dealt with.

The building of the Body of Chris

`Have as if you would not have at all'

Introduction to meditation

Meditation

Christian Revivals of the Past and Present Centuries/

Alpha course

The Church

Liturgy

A new subject area is introduced

Authority

Friend or mate?

The THREE Existence-modes of Christ

The Presence; The Glory; In Christ

Covenant

Do we value our freedom of worship?

A biography with a difference

The different state of human nature

Paul the Apostle and his ministry

Suggestions for daily prayer

Healing, Baptism in the Holy Spirit; after the

Baptism; Prayer for inner healing, including our memories

The baptism by John and by Jesus

Who are my closest relatives?

ISRAEL

The civilization of the 20th century

The divine Liturgy of the Church

"You shall love your God with all your heart..."

The Our Father

`I am crucified with You...'

In the Name of the Father

Lord, You have promised

Confession

The Gloria

Teaching

The Creed

Greeting of Peace

Holy, Holy, Holy

Consecration

Epiclese

Let us proclaim

Prayers after the Consecration

We Commemorate

We Remembering

The Holy of Hollies

`Breaking the Body'

Preparation for receiving Holy Communion

Invitation

Communion

Closing Prayers

Blessing

Dismissal

The New Age and Angels

Corporal punishment

Miracles

Salt and light of the world

House Church/Group/ Fellowship

You have a terminally ill relative?

So called modern music

Creation versus evolution

The concept of family

Artificial interference with human conception

Unnatural human affections

Christian education

Tradition...the Law

"...through their fall salvation is come to the Gentiles..." (Rom 11,11)

Is there an unconditional love?

Temptation

Is God omnipotent?

Lent

Baptism.

Every human being has a purpose

When did the human Jesus know what the divine Christ knew? Matthew 17,1-8

"You are not under the Law but under Grace" (Rom 6,14)

The Passover Meal

`Charity begins at home'

Tolerance

Democracy

Outreach

Israel asks for a king/ The Church rejects her foundations

Striving for healing

"Seek ye first the Kingdom of God..."

Modern music - a second look

Adam - fiction or fact?

Thanksgiving for the faithful departed

"Seek ye first the kingdom of God..." Mt 6,33

"Ask and it will be given to you" Mt 7,7

The death and resurrection of Lazarus, Jn 11

The God-intended relationship between man and woman

"Anyone who proclaimes you a Gospel contrary..."

Moses raised up a serpent

Euthanasia

`Christians' un-Christian missionary efforts

"In him we live and move and exist" Acts 17,28

Good Friday IS followed by the Resurrection

What are your priorities?

Are the Jews guilty and the Christians innocent?

Eye-witness and commissioning

The Original Church

The constitution of the resurrected body

Social responsibility of Christians

The relationship of man and woman in marriage

What is ailing our Christianity?

The Star of David

The sacrifice of Christ and my response

Jesus said: "I am the Way..." (Jn 14,6a)

Thoughts to consider

(God's names)

Why did Jesus have to die?

The Bible

Jesus Christ

(a summary)

THE BUILDING OF THE BODY OF CHRIST - the armor of God

The building up of the Body of Christ has two main aspects: The physical and the spiritual. It is important to understand that those two aspects have to go hand in hand and parallel with each other. It would be a great mistake to place an emphasis on the physical building up while neglecting the spiritual.

The first subject area which I am talking to you about is prayer. Prayer is one of the most important fundaments of our Christian lives.

Just to emphasize again, prayer, individual and corporal, is absolutely necessary: If we do not communicate with God we do not have fellowship with Him.

Today we will learn to put on the armor of God, the weapons which the Scriptures recommend. It is important in our spiritual walk to learn how to defend ourselves against the enemy, that is, satan.

A few preliminary thoughts:

- We have to realize that satan is a defeated enemy and he can not do more to us than we or God allow him to do;

- The Scripture says: "...resist the devil and he MUST flee" (James 4,7). This statement indicates to us several things: First of all that we have a free will and than that we have to resist. Many Christians turn to God in the time of temptation and ask Him to deliver them. This is a very pious thought but God will not do the `job' for us: WE have to resist the devil in Jesus Name and he will flee from us. We use a simple prayer: `Devil, depart from me in the Name of Jesus.'

- Jesus shed His Blood on Calvary. Through the shedding of His Blood Jesus defeated the enemy. Our prayer shall be: `I put myself (and my family) under the protection of the Blood of Jesus.'

- We have to realize that we are not fighting against flesh and blood (see Eph 6,12) but against spiritual powers.

- Lets us read Ephesians 6,10-18, that is, the chapter on spiritual warfare.

The weapons of our warfare:

It is important that you put on this armor every morning during your morning prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to support your effort. I will also give you some practical hints, how to put it on.

When Paul presented to his Christians the armor of God, he took as an example a Roman soldier's weapons. Their clothing and armor was very practical.

Under his weaponry, the Roman soldier wore a short tunic. Before he could put on his armor, he had to first put on his BELT which held together the tunic.

The BELT is the TRUTH. We have to live in the truth otherwise all other weapons are useless.

There is no such a thing as a `white lie.' A lie can be verbal and a nonverbal one, that is, a "JUSTIFY">If you have a problem with the truth, you put on the "belt of truth", that is, during your morning prayer you make a firm resolution to be yourself and tell the truth. During your evening prayer you will pay special attention to this resolution and if you failed you will plan a new strategy (like a good general) for the next day, trying to correct the mistakes you made the preceding day.

The next armor is the BREASTPLATE - RIGHTEOUSNESS. This armor of the soldier protected his breast, that is, his heart.

Righteousness is often used for God and meant His faithfulness.

Faithfulness is so important that without it no human community (family, church, state) can function properly. To be faithful in words and deeds is extremely important in our walk with God and with each other.

If you have a problem with faithfulness, plan your day accordingly in prayer.

A good soldier looks after his feet. The Roman soldier had a very strong `shoe.' It is unimaginable for a warrior to fight on the battlefield without shoes. The debris laying around would disable him. Paul says: "put on the SHOES of the GOSPEL" (Good News). We Christians have to learn to walk in the Good News.

Many Christians live (`walk') according to all kinds of humanistic, New-Age, etc., ideas.

Just to mention one of these `ungodly walks', humanism: It is not Christian. The humanist has at best human beings in the center of his life, mainly his own ego but certainly not Christ. We have to learn to think and "walk" in our daily lives according to biblical principles.

SHIELD - FAITH.

The Roman soldier's shield was a large one. He could hide behind it and was adequately protected from the front. When we walk in faith with Jesus, God will protect us. Nothing can happen to God's faithful People that God does not allow.

This does not mean that a Christian doesn't have to suffer. As a matter of fact, God sometimes even allows His people to be killed. The Church was built on the blood of martyrs.

If we walk with the shield of faith, the arrows and the attacks of the enemy will bounce off.

The HELMET of SALVATION. The soldier's helmet protected his head.

"...bring all thoughts under the rulership of Christ" (2 Cor 10,5).

It is incredible how many useless and/or sinful thoughts go through our heads a day. Many thoughts are popping up because of circumstances, events, encounters with situations and people, which we can't do anything about. The problem starts when we start to dwell on them.

Negative thoughts are almost unavoidable but with the "helmet of salvation" you can turn them into positive ones. How can the Bible help us? During your regular Bible reading a verse, a word, a paragraph will "pop out" of that reading. This can be a personal message of God to you. You may learn this by heart. After some time you will have an extensive knowledge of the Bible, a large potential "shield" which you can use, replacing negative thoughts with biblical ones. Start now! Put yourself on the road and `build your shield!'...`build your helmet!'

SWORD of the SPIRIT. The sword of the Spirit is a two edged sword - for defense and for offense. The soldier protects and attacks with it.

To learn to use the sword of the Spirit is very important because as good soldiers of Christ we have to learn to protect ourselves (see above: `I put myself under the Blood of Jesus') and also we have to learn to attack the enemy (see above: "...resist the devil..."). See also the remarks on the Helmet of Salvation.

Verse 18: "PRAYING FOR GOD'S PEOPLE":

All the above mentioned armor protects the soldier from the front. What is protecting him from behind? Who is protecting the Christian's back? The soldier behind you, your fellow Christian.

Intercession cannot be overestimated. It is extremely important that other Christians are praying for us and we praying for them.

`Have as if you would not have at all.'

See Lk 12,32-34;9,58;4,18;18,22;6,24; Mk 12,41-44; Mt 19,16-24; Ps 16,5

It is obvious and perhaps disturbing that the New Testament praises the poor and finds quite hard words for the rich. For instance Jesus says: "Blessed be the poor..."; "I came to preach the Good News to the poor." Talking about Himself He says: "The Son of Man has no place where he can lay his head." Indeed, at the time when Jesus began His Public Ministry, He left everything: His profession, His home and joined the "have nots." On the other hand, He declared: "When you are rich you have already claimed your reward." There is the well known parable of the Rich Young Man who came and asked Jesus what he had to do to inherit the Kingdom. After he claimed he had fulfilled all the commandments, Jesus looked at him and said: "There is one thing you still have to do. Sell everything you have, give it to the poor and follow me." The young man turned away and left because he had a lot of possessions. An other well known parable is the `Widow's coin.' Jesus praised the widow because she gave the last of all she had, while the rich gave only something from his superfluity.

What shall we think? Is being poor a virtue and being rich a vice? If nothing else, my experience will tell me that this is not the case. After the war we had nothing. There was a lot of poverty and hunger around the place. There were many who bore their poverty (`to be a have not') with dignity and love and others who rebelled against it. The poor who are willing to accept their situation and put their trust in God, turn their entire state into a virtuous state. Many Christians followed the path of Christ literally: Some members of the Original Church sold everything and gave to those who had less. During later centuries there were others who followed this path. One of the well known example is Francis of Assisi. Poverty as a virtue is a thing of the heart!

The attitude of the widow, mentioned above, shows a tremendous trust in God (the virtue of trust and faith): She puts herself entirely into God's hands. It is not what she gave that mattered, but her trust and faith in God. She believed that God would honor her sacrifice and not let her down, but sustain her.

On the other hand there was the rich man who, in his pride, was boasting of his giving. Believing that he had done enough, mocked the poor widow. Riches have many dangers. One of the greatest pitfalls of it is pride and striving for power.

God is the Giver of all things. Nothing we have is ours, not even our lives. He lent it to us and expects us to be `Good Stewards' of everything He entrusted us. We must use it according to His will. Therefore, the person who has, has a great responsibility. The Scripture does not urge everyone to sell everything. What matters is: How does the person use what he has. If the rich lives up to God's expectations, he is virtuous. Riches or poverty as a virtue is therefore a thing of the heart!

You may ask: Who is rich? It is a fact that only a small percentage of the world population lives under such satisfactory conditions as we Australians do. But there is great poverty not just outside but also in this country.

Let us talk about ourselves. We have to ask the question: What are my priorities? An honest answer would most likely give the following: My family, job, husband, wife, children, social obligations, etc. and whatever is left over of my time, money, energy, etc., I will give some of it to God. I hope we feel the absurdity of this. How can we expect God's blessing upon such an attitude? God's Kingdom cannot expand if we are busy with everything else and give the leftovers to God. Jesus died for you! He did this for you...what are you doing for Him?

Everything we have is God's! And He demands the best part and not the tale-end of it: We talking about sacrificial giving. This "sacrificial spirit" can not be obtained through works. It will come to us through a personal relationship with Jesus, which is a gift of the Heavenly Father. We can (must) pray for a disposition which will grant us a thirst, a hunger and a desire for a friendship with Jesus. We need healing, that God may exchange our stony heart with a heart of compassion, love, trust and sacrificial giving. God is faithful and He will grant our fervent petition!

The family of God can not grow unless it receives this healing. What shall we do to obtain it? First we have to admit that God is not the center of our lives. We have to repent for this and seek His guidance. We must pray individually and as a Parish-family for this above mentioned change of heart. The change will not occur overnight. But if we are honest and persistent in our endeavor, God will honor His promise ("ask and you will receive" - Mt 7,7) and will grant us our request!

Let us pray:

I will not pray for you, but rather I will pray with you. As one who is also struggling to put God first in his life!

Lord, we thank You that You are here with us as we confess our shortcomings to You. You know that we are a fearful people and are afraid to trust You. Lord, we have our own priorities and very seldom think of Your priorities.

Father, help us to understand that Your Son died that we might live and that others might "live through us", that is, that we give You our time, energy and other resources, that the poor might be fed, the Gospel might be preached and many might be saved.

Thank You Jesus that Your Holy Spirit will guide us individually and as a Parish-family, into greater spiritual heights.

Thank You for Your patience. Give us insight to recognize Your will and the strength to fulfil it. Grant us a joyous heart in Your Presence! Amen!

INTRODUCTION TO MEDITATION

"BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD"! (Ps 46,10)

Preliminary thoughts:

There is a `prayer of the mind' and a `prayer of the heart.' Both prayers are biblical and necessary. One does not exclude but complement the other.

Most Christians are praying with their `mind' and have difficulties with the prayer of the `heart,' that is, meditation.

In the prayer of the mind it is ourselves who are taking the initiative. Meditation is the work of the Spirit, Who prays within us (see Rom 8,26).

Making progress:

The progress is in the stillness which we obtain through meditation. It is not even a goal. It is the absence of effort and the desire of achieve it.

Meditation is the state of being entirely open to the fullness of reality contained in the love of Jesus as He sweeps us beyond ourselves into the mystery of the limitless love of the Father.

For our heart to be purely open to God's reality we require the simplicity of a child (see Lk 18,17), to sit still in the presence of God and to remain open to Him.

However perfect or skilled our human mind may be, it is as nothing compared to the wholly ineffable mystery we can enter only by treading the path of simplicity - the Holy Spirit will lead us.

Often we find that we have put ourselves at the center of the world. Meditation is learning to stand back and to allow God to come to the forefront of life. Meditation is the step away from self-centredness to God-centredness.

Meditation is not thinking about God. It is being with God.

The Holy Spirit will teach you to be a listener and as a listener you will hear the Spirit's teaching you humility, poverty, fidelity, hope, etc.

My heart is restless until it rests in Thee: To find rest is to find THE solid base out of which we live - Jesus Christ. Having been rooted and grounded in the solid rock-Christ, we then live `in Christ' (see Jn 14,15-20). The experience of meditation is about this `being rooted and living' in Christ.

We are created to be simple, to be one and to be in the state of oneness and peace. Meditation is one way to this oneness with ourselves, with others and with Christ. Through submerging into the Spirit we "share in the life of His Son Jesus Christ" (1 Cor 1,9). Each Christian must understand that THIS is his vocation: Each of us is called to share in the fullness of the life of Christ. Christianity is not primarily concerned with knowledge of God or knowledge about God. It is concerned with coming to knowledge IN God. This again sums up the whole purpose of meditation The plan for the entire universe is to share in the LIFE of God in Jesus.

Meditation is a way to poverty and purity of heart which allows us to "see" God (see Mt 5,8).

Meditation is our way out of our selves into God. To follow this way the most essential quality is meditation.

The Early Church was utterly clear that our call is to enter into the very life of God (compare Lk

17,21). We have to leave everything behind and to become utterly poor in order to enter the presence of God and for this we need faith.

The Christian experience cannot be shared second-hand. Everyone has to experience God for himself.

Think of it not so much as a time for `doing' meditation as simply a time for being...for being in the presence of God.

All of us are called to knowledge, to know God with a fullness that propels us beyond mere conceptual knowledge into love. To know God is to love God! The only way we can come to this knowledge is through the Spirit. The principle office of the Spirit is to bear testimony to Christ. The Spirit in our hearts leads us to this knowledge of Christ which becomes love and which takes us beyond ourselves, with Christ, into God.

Words define beliefs. Words change. And so beliefs change. Beliefs are entirely secondary to faith which does not change. The object of our faith is Jesus Christ. The task of our life is to make contact with this Faith. The clear message of the New Testament is that Jesus Christ communicates to us His essence, His own being.

In silence the Spirit leads us into the pure prayer of love, which again leads into Christ.

Through meditation we are discovering the wonder of His involvement in our life.

Every experience of making contact with the power of Jesus in meditation will show us what is essential, that is, not to DO but to BE, the redeemed, the loved of Christ.

In our meditation, our prayer is not our own but Jesus'. The pilgrimage we have to make is the journey away from self into the mystery of God. We learn how to wait on God.

There is a wide spread heresy forbidding repetitive prayer. This teaching is based on a single (misinterpreted) Bible passage: Matthew 6,7. This verse is correctly translated thus: "Do not keep on babbling like pagans..." "Babbling" is an expression which means the following:

1. Most pagan religions use `mantra' in their practices. Mantra is mostly a name of a heathen god. By repeating it, it brings the worshiper into contact with this god. The pagan believes that by repeating this word over and over again, his request will be heard and granted.

  • "Babbling" also implies a repetition without meaning.

The Jews used (use) a sort of repetitive prayer: Their constant repetition of the Law (or other parts of the Scriptures) had decisive differences to that of the pagan "babbling". God Himself commanded to "repeat" His Word and keep it in mind (see Deut 6,5-9;11,13-21: "Tie them on your hands and bind them on your foreheads"). The recitation or repetition of the Ordinances of God also helped the Jews to live according to God's precepts.

The mind is our organ for truth; the `heart' (the innermost center of our being) our organ for love. Through the discipline of meditation we bring our mind and heart into a harmony that purifies and heals.

Meditation is a pilgrimage in which, in the depths of our being, the Spirit speaks to our spirit.

Our part in meditation is to enter the stillness and to wait there for God.

When we begin to meditate we notice the disturbance coming from our thoughts. To eliminate this `chatter', to put ourselves at ease and to allow the Spirit to communicate undisturbed with our spirit we use a Sacred Word or Passage:

Before we can meditate, that is, listen to God, we have to come to stillness. To learn this will take some time and practice.

MEDITATION

By meditation we mean that contact with God, which takes place in the deepest part of our person, usually called the heart.

Meditating on the Word of God, for instance, on the Name of Jesus will fill us with Him (compare Rom 12,2; Eph 4,23; Phil 4,8; 1 Pe 1,13).

Meditate the Lord and enter deeply into the mystery of who He is.

The great `monks' of the Ancient Church, the Desert Fathers, rediscovered and recommended the constant meditation of the Word of God. One of their favorite Sacred Word was "ma-ra-na-tha" (this Aramaic word means, "Come Lord, Come Lord Jesus" (see 1 Cor 16,22; Rev 22,20).

For the Ancients, the name of the person was synonymous with the person. Speaking the name of a person brings the very person into the life of the speaker. Speaking out, calling on (in faith) the Name of Jesus brings the Lord into our hearts and gives us healing, His salvation and protection (see Rom 10,13; Acts 3,6;16,18;22,16; Mk 9,38.39;16,17; Lk 10,17). The other very common Sacred Word was the Name of JESUS.

Meditation expresses, practices and experiences:

"Fill your minds with..." (Phil 4,8) Jesus and His message;

"Taste and see that the Lord is good" (Ps 34,8);

"All I want is to know Christ and..." (Phil 3,10) - this is not an intellectual knowledge, but rather a `heart knowledge', that is, to know Him in my heart through an intimate and growing personal relationship.

With each meditation inner stillness is necessary.

Obtaining this inner stillness means to return to our Center, to our innermost being, to our heart. Let me explain: Imagine yourself as a house. Children love to paint pictures of houses. A house means security, a home, my home. I live in me, my whole being, I live from the center, from my heart.

If a person loses his center (lives mainly or only according to reason), he is not comfortable in himself; he cannot identify with himself, is uneasy and loses himself. What leads him to leave his house, to leave his center? Usually it is caused by yielding to the world in which we live, in which success and achievement count, and which is planned on mathematical reasoning and functions as a result of agreement and organization. In the biblical sense, this is `flesh' and not `spirit.'

We are always in danger of losing our center. This is why we must continually turn away from the world and return to our center, that is, meditate.

Let yourself go! Give your life to the Lord! "Dine" (Rev 3,20) with Him in the center of your being! Meditate!

Start your meditation:

1. Sit down, relaxed and upright. Place yourself into the presence of God: "Here I am," Lord (see 1 Sam 3,4);

2. Read the Bible and select your Sacred Word or passage;

  • Close your eyes lightly. Silently, interiorly begin to say YOUR Sacred biblical word or phrase (in order to [it will help you too] overcome the `chatter' in your mind). Listen to it as you say it, gently but continuously. Do not think or imagine anything. If thoughts and images come keep

returning to simply saying your Sacred Word. Meditate each morning and evening for between twenty and thirty minutes. [Start with 5-10 minutes – but do not "time" it – just let it happen. It does not matter if it is longer or shorter.]

During meditation the Holy Spirit will speak into the quietness, will take over and teach you. And the peace of God will come over you and your inner knowledge and union of Him will grow! The Spirit of God will overcome your obstacles and will heal your heart. Let yourself be filled with the Spirit of God!

Christian Revivals of the Past and Present Centuries - general observations

(special comments on the so called Toronto Blessing and the Alpha Course)

Revival becomes necessary when the Church goes astray. Since the death of the Apostles and the disappearance of the Charismatic Offices (Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist and Teacher, see Eph 4,11-12 and the book `The Witness of the Times'), the Body of Christ is gradually decaying. False teachings and divisions weakened and are still weakening the Church and her witness (see Jn 14,21). The Apostle warned the Church of being invaded by satan-infiltrated intruders (see Acts 20,29-31), who will strive to destroy God's flock.

Christ built His Church on the foundation of the Apostles (see Eph 2,19-20). As soon as this foundation disintegrated, the Church was floating on `marshland': The so called apostolic offices (bishop, priest, deacon - a second hand authority) replaced the firsthand Charismatic Office-authority, given by Christ to His Church.

The result of this development was obvious already at the time of Constantine the Great (+ 337). The world entered the Church. The state-church was governed by secular principles. Wealth, worldly considerations and position took the place of the Christ given spiritual structure. The Church was gradually losing her spiritual power. The signs and the gifts (see Mk 17,16-18; 1 Cor 12,7-10), promised by Christ, disappeared from the Church.

The `second hand authority' is a powerless authority; void to a great extent of the spiritual powers which are necessary to govern the Church and to witness effectively in the world.

Many have tried to correct this condition of the Church but all so-called reform movements have failed because they did not have the spiritual commissioning of Christ, the commissioning of an Apostle. The only way which will lead the Church back to its original state is the reestablishment of the Charismatic Offices - this can only be done by Christ Himself. At the end of time, before the Return of Christ, the Church will be reunited on its divine foundations (Eph 4,11) and will prepare the Saints for their Rapture.

Before we go to the second part of this treatise, we must confirm also that the Holy Spirit did not completely abandon the Church and in spite of His reduced activity (trying to overcome human frailty, sinfulness and the lack of Apostle-guidance) He was guiding her through the ages. That this guidance was reduced and that often human sin prevailed is obvious - we just have to look at church history.

The lack of discernment is a part of the general problem facing the derailed Church, but because this shortcoming had and still has a devastating effect on the Church, resulting in the many defects which will be mentioned below, we felt that we have to mention it separately. Discernment is a gift of the Holy Spirit given to a united Church, based on the foundation of the Apostles.

An important common denominator of all these movements is the Protestant doctrine of individualism, that is, every Christian is directly responsible to God. This believe is correct if one does not ignore our `horizontal accountability,' that is, that Jesus founded ONE Church with a visible hierarchy (Charismatic Offices) and every Christian must be subordinated to it. The above mentioned Protestant teaching ignores this basic Biblical doctrine. According to Protestant principle, every Christian (including every pastor of course) is an infallible teacher, interpreter of the Bible, judge and jury in his/her own right.

This unspoken doctrine is based on the belief that every Christian, having the Holy Spirit, will be led by Him to `all the truths.' This Biblical truth is twisted to the extent that a Protestant cannot be corrected by anyone - he has only one authority above him, that is, God. The truth of the matter is, that the innumerable Protestant sects with their contradictory teachings (the Holy Spirit never contradicts Himself) are a mute testimony that we cannot clearly discern the voice of the Spirit and are subject to all kinds of false believes and sins. Infallibility is a `property' of the United Church, led by the Christ appointed Twelve Apostle.

In the light of the above mentioned Biblical facts we will now examine some reform movements of the past and present centuries. Although, as we stated, these movements could not reestablish the original integrity of the Church, they often served as an instrument of the Spirit to, for instance, rediscover lost Biblical truths. Never the less, because they did not have the Apostle- foundation all reform movements ended up exaggerating the discovered truths, being infiltrated by false teachings and adding to the splitting up of the Church. No Church can claim today that they have all the truth and nothing but the truth!

Through the Pentecostal Movement of the last century, the Holy Spirit brought to the surface the lost Gifts of the Spirit (see 1 Cor 12,7-11[12]). That this movement became a separate church is not of the Spirit. Exaggerating the importance of the gifts (not having the Charismatic Offices) and lacking on discernment, this church became one of the organizations further splitting up the Body of Christ.

The Catholic Apostolic Church, founded also in the 19th century, was instrumental in bringing back the Biblical idea of the Charismatic Offices. The basic idea was correct, but the enemy got in by the human selection of the Twelve Apostles. Apostles are, by Biblical definition,`eye-witnesses' of the Lord (see Acts 1,22) and therefore they must be selected personally by Christ Himself. The best example for this is Paul, who was chosen by Jesus through a personal encounter on the road to Damascus. This church has now practically disintegrated.

Through the Baptist Church the Spirit corrected the generally accepted false teaching of infant baptism. Unfortunately, lacking the above mentioned Biblical foundations, she turned into a splitter of the Body and is full of false teachings.

Through the 20th century Charismatic Movement the Holy Spirit brought the Biblical Gifts into the major denominations. Unfortunately again, as these churches (groups) are lacking the basic Biblical foundation, this movement brought not just blessings but also a lot of confusion into the divided Body of Christ.

The Charismatic movement has many `faces,' that is, many different directions. As in the different Christian sects, we can observe some divine and some satanic infiltration. Depending on the group and its leadership we can observe the true Gifts of the Spirit or its counterfeits or a mixture of both.

It is certain that the Holy Spirit uses the Charismatic movement to reveal and keep alive certain divine truths and gather God's People, preparing them for the coming of the End Time Church. Within this preparation the Lord is doing a profound work of emotional healing and of binding up broken hearts, as well as deliverance from demonic oppression where necessary.

I believe that in these days in preparation for the End Time Church, the Lord is preparing people who are able to be strong in Him, have a deep knowledge of Him and are ready to accept the coming of His Apostles.

I believe also that as a result of what the Spirit is doing there, in this movement there is a restoration of right relationships within families, turning the hearts of the fathers to their children and of the children to their father (see Mal 4,6). This is also an End Time preparation. But we have to be aware that satan uses the same movement to infiltrate churches and lead believers astray, preparing them for his purposes.

In our predicament of not having the above mentioned Biblical foundations (Charismatic Offices), we can but try to discern some of the teachings and phenomena occurring in these groups which are popping up all over the world, claiming to be genuine, that is, of the Holy Spirit. The preceding and the following `discernment' is subject to the approval of the End-Time Apostles.

I wish to mention here only the so called Toronto experience, which already has many followers and opposers; many different "colorings" depending on in which denomination it is practiced.

There are two basic factors which I wish to examine: 1. The teachings of those who `founded' this movement and 2. the phenomena it self.

1. The teachings:

From the fruits you will know the tree (see Mt 7,17).

We will present but a few teachings of some of the leading men in, as we may call it, The New Wave Movements.

The following quotations are taken directly from teachings and writings of people directly responsible for founding and leading this movement:

a. - "The Holy Spirit is the one that gives God the characteristic of being omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent."* What he is in fact saying is that God the Father and God the Son don't have the characteristics that belong fully to each member of the Godhead. If Jesus is not omnipotent then He is not fully God.

R.Howard-Browne's teaching, 13th of February 1995 in Adelaide. He comes from the South African Rhema movement (School).

John Arnott,* the founder of the Toronto Airport Vineyard Church (known as "the Toronto blessing"), was `blessed' in one of the Howard-Browne meetings.

*John Arnott is a member of J. Wimber's Vineyard Churches (Churchland Christian Fellowship in Perth WA, is a Vineyard Church).

R.Howard-Browne, Kenneth E. Hagin and Kenneth Copeland are all members of the Rhema Faith movement (teaching, among other things, the infamous "prosperity" doctrine).

R.H. Browne and K. Copeland are co-workers. They are frequently presenting their message together.

In "The Coming Revival," by Howard-Browne (p.13), he names numerous people, calling them "great men of God". Among them is William Branham, an anti-Trinitarian.

b. "Trinitarianism is of the devil"* - under no circumstances can we classify an anti-Trinitarian as a Christian.

* William Branham "Footprints on the Sands of Time," Part Two, Spoken Word Publications, 1975, p. 606-607.

c. "Why did he (Jesus) need to be begotten and born? Because he became like we were - separated from God. Because he tasted spiritual death for every man. And his spirit and inner man went to hell in my place. Can't you see that? Physical death wouldn't remove sins. He's tasted death for every man. Jesus is the first person that was ever born again. Why did his spirit need to be born again? Because it was estranged from God."*

  • Kenneth Hagin, "How Jesus obtained His Name," Kenneth Hagin Ministries, audio tape #44-H01.

K.E. Hagin was the founder of the RHEMA Bible Church movement (a fundamentalist, pentecostal splitter group), and one of the key leaders in the Word-Faith movement*.

He denies that the physical death of Jesus removed our sins and brings the Lord Jesus down to the level of a born-again sinner.

* Word-Faith movement or Rhema movement teaches that "what you are saying will become," that is, your spoken word has a `being.' In the context of the `prosperity doctrine' (if you are in tune with God then you are healthy and wealthy), if you are saying (long enough) that you are healthy, you will be healthy.

d. "The believer is as much an incarnation as was Jesus of Nazareth"*.

* K. Hagin, "The Incarnation," The Word of Faith, December 1980, p.14.

e. "God's reason for creating Adam was his desire to reproduce himself. I mean a reproduction of himself. And in the garden of Eden he did that...Adam in the garden of Eden was God manifested in flesh."*

* Kenneth Copeland, "Following the Faith of Abraham 1," Kenneth Copeland Ministries, 1989, audio tape #01-3001, side 1.

f. (Speaking of Jesus) "...And now God had a way to hover over a little woman by the name of Mary. And there was born of the virgin woman a product of God...Now you see God is injected his word into the earth to produce this Jesus..."*

  1. Kenneth Copeland, "The Image of God in You," K.C. Ministries, 1989, audio tape #01-1403, side 2.

g."Now it wasn't the physical death on the cross that paid the price for sin...it wasn't physical death - anybody could do that."*

* K.C., "What Satan Saw on the Day of Pentecost," K.C. Ministries, audio tape #02-0022.

Kenneth Copeland does not have a Christian concept of God and of Jesus Christ: God is demoted to a limited human being; Jesus is the product of God and, according to him, we are not saved by His death on the cross.

Summary of some of his teachings:

- He is actively dissuades people from praying in his meetings.

- He has warned people not to discern with their minds, just to `yield.'

- He preaches `health and wealth.'

- He proudly declares that `the less I preach, the more people get blessed.' He is instrumental in the discrediting and destruction of sound Gospel preaching.

- His teaching - on the Holy Spirit and his role connected to Him; on hell, etc. mildly put, are questionable.

Kenneth Copeland and R. Howard-Browne are co-workers. They are frequently presenting their messages together.

2. The phenomena:

After talking to Christians who were present in some of the Toronto meetings, seeing videos of the manifestations, listening to lectures on the movements (pro and contra), listening to tapes and reading reports, I arrived at the following conclusion:

We are not doubting that many Christians are earnestly seeking. The question is: What are they seeking and what are they finding?

The New Wave Movement over emphasizes experience. Visiting some churches connected to this movement, you will be asked: "Do you come for the manifestation?" "Are you blessed?"

St. Paul emphasizes that the renewal of the mind is the necessary way to transformation and therefore a part of genuine worship (see Eph 4,23; Rom 12,2). The New Wave Movement does not know the renewal of the mind - it is all about feelings!

Some of the manifestations are justified with the Old Testament. For example: Saul (see 1 Sam 10,10;19,23) doing strange things (King Saul is not a typical example for Christians); Moses and some of the prophets, are described as falling down when God came to them - the difference is, that they did so as a result of God appearing to them. However, we are not Old Testament people; we are people of the post-Pentecost era. Who falls down in the New Testament? Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9,4). He fell because Jesus appeared to him. John on Patmos (Rev 1,17) fell as a result of a vision of Christ in His glory. He also fell before an angel (Rev 19,10;22,8) and he was corrected because his behavior was inappropriate. Also, when John fell as dead before Jesus, Jesus encouraged him that such a response (fear?) was likewise inappropriate (Rev 1,17-18).

Some experiences are compared with `being drunk in the Spirit' and using Acts 2,13) as an example. In the New Wave Movement the people who are `acting drunk' (unable to stand without assistance because their legs were like jelly) are lacking in the ability to move from their `state of inebriation' to a coherent proclamation such as given by Peter on the day of Pentecost.

Somewhere there is the sense that it is what God has done somewhere else that we need. It is not what God has done elsewhere that is needed. We need God Himself!

The movement is splitting up congregations and churches.

The believers are convulsing in laughter beyond their control. The Holy Spirit always respects our free will! A compulsion is the work of satan.

Feelings are over emphasized and practiced in an entertainment-carnival atmosphere.

There is a visible demonstration of power without the corresponding sense of God in the midst of sequels of carnal excitement and loud music bursting ones eardrums. Here is an atmosphere contrary to God's holiness and character - an abandonment of all restraint: Leap in or get out of the way of others if you cannot participate!

The meetings are characterized by ear-splitting `worship', high-powered offerings, calculated theatrics, carnival bawdiness, chilling shrieks and cries that punctuate the proceedings, the conspicuous absence of the preached word (except perhaps in a token way or in a way serving the purpose of the stage-manager), etc.

There is an all out denunciation of those who have reservation against this movement. They are called `enemies' and `threats' to this so called outpouring of God.

What we are reaping is what was (and still is) carelessly sown in the past decades of the so called Charismatic movement: The immaturity of many Christians was encouraged by placing too much expectations on personalities, styles of worship and signs. The Cross and the narrow path was avoided! Christians need to have a balance of the two - to take up our cross daily and follow Jesus and to be expectant that the power of the Holy Spirit will be manifest in our lives.

The Cross is out, bathing in feelings and getting high on "spiritual drugs" are in.

When `experience' is a `quick-fix' alternative to Biblical discipline, we are putting ourselves in spiritual jeopardy.

Does not this `quick-fix' encourages a tendency which promotes an immaturity of believers? We human beings prefer to be effortlessly `acted upon' miraculously, rather than diligently seeking God on the basis of the promise of His Word (see Jer 29,13)?

It is a Biblical fact that when something eventuates in blessing, release, or deliverance there is no sure evidence or guarantee that it is of God (see Mt 24,24). The same powers of darkness which have wrought the oppressions through careless or unclean living can just as easily relieve them - restoring even relationships broken and made miserable by them - in order to bring about a greater deception!

Even the most rapturous `love of God' can be a deception if one is not willing to love and obey God unconditionally.

Is the `hunger for God' genuine, or is it a hunger for an experience of God that will assure the insecure soul that they are known and are accepted of God?

"One crippled woman arose and walked, instantly healed. Another who had been in bed for four years with palsy was restored to health. A child, who was suffering from brain fever and was given up to die by physicians, was healed and after a few hours was playing about the floor." This account has not been quoted from a Pentecostal magazine, but from a report of the Mormon church, whose central teaching (for instance on the divinity of Christ) is contrary to the Word of God. We also read that after a Mormon baptism, the new believer was filled with joy and the `experience' changed his life. Satan will counterfeit all what the Holy Spirit may do or give in order to permanently separate the soul from God.

Our age is becoming more and more a PSYCHIC age. It is an age of the soul and not of the spirit; the soul is spilling over and asserting itself, taking control of everything in Christianity as well as outside of it - a soul age! Christians are after signs, trying to obtain them in a highly emotional and psychic atmosphere.

Summary of some of the teachings and phenomena of the Toronto Experience:

- Wild, uncontrollable laughter.

- Impromptu, vague and unbiblical prophecies.

- Lack of Biblical teaching.

- Absence of the Cross, sin, repentance or faith in Christ crucified.

- Disregard for Biblical discernment.- Animal noises.

- Interruption and anarchy.

- `Health and wealth' prosperity teaching.

- Flash link between phenomena and inner spirituality.

- End-time global revivalism, etc.

Are we not in the last days? Have we not been warned about deception (see 1 Jn 4,1; 1 Thess 5,21)? Haven't we heard from "lying signs and wonders" (see Mt 24,24)? The last day's (our day's) deception will be spiritual "for satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light" (see 2 Cor 11,14).

If the enemy can succeed in bringing the Church to viewing `benefits' as the determinant by which something is judged to be of God, we have been brought to the very ground of deception itself.

A true revival of the Church is possible only on the foundation which was laid by the Christ, that is, by the Apostle-office. What we are experiencing now, that is, the general outpouring of the Spirit (often misinterpreted and misused by the different so called churches) is nothing more than a preparation of the individual Christian (not the churches - sects!) for the coming of the End Time Church.

The next important Signs of the Times is the establishment of the End Time Church, led by the Twelve End Time Apostles. Our present task is to pray and wait expectantly for it.

"The end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer" (see 1 Pe 4,7).

Slaying in the spirit! What spirit?

"Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 Jn 4,1).

During Jesus' preaching, no one fell down from excess of emotions. He did not play on people's emotions. He did not mentally manipulated people. He simply told them the truth, what He heard from the Father (see Jn 8,26b; 15,15). He wanted people to be completely sober and composed and able to exercise one of the most precious gift God had given them, their freedom to choose. He was calling people to a relationship of love and obedience. For as much as people are free to choose, they are also able to love and obey.

When Peter preached on the day of Pentecost (see Acts 2,14f), he was full of the Holy Spirit and the power from on high. There are certain preachers who induce a spiritual crisis by addressing the emotions of their listeners. Peter appealed to the intellect (as Paul also appealed to Christians for the "renewal" of their mind, see Eph 4,23) of his listeners, telling them what happened, and finished his preaching by presenting Jesus to them as their Lord and Messiah. Peter did not scare (or charmed) people into the Kingdom of God, but sought a response to the grace and the love of God.

It is not the experience that tests of measures the Word of God. It is the Word of God that measures experience!

There is a world of difference between the manifestations of the Spirit, as described in the Bible, and the manifestations of those associated with the slaying in the spirit. The slaying in the spirit is sense-oriented. The Biblical experience is spirit-oriented. The only `sense' experiences in Scripture are those that are necessary in order to receive a revelation from God, that is, someone hears a message or sees a vision! The physical experiences People of God had were related to the revealed message. They never existed on their own, as in the case of slaying in the spirit.

It is very significant that, in the whole Bible, there is not a passage that contains a mention of the varieties of shaking, jerking, uncontrollable weeping or laughing (concerning 1 Sam 19,23f, see the treatise "Christian Revival of the Past and Present Centuries" and see also OT Commentary to this passage).

The only reactions to the Spirit of God are those appropriate in the face of the holiness of God.

The human being is created for Christ, as His temple. A human being might shake in fear, may prostrate (fall, if you wish) before the Lord because of feeling unworthy and sinful.

We will bring you here a significant observation:

Often the first encounter with the evil spirit is accompanied by violent manifestations which, over time, may become less and less violent. The evil spirit, when it invades a person's body, must first break down all resistance. This accounts for the different physical manifestations. Then, when this alien force takes control, the physical manifestations diminish or disappear because the evil spirit meets no internal resistance, and is free to manifest itself on a spiritual level. The evil spirit becomes entrenched and the person becomes a compliant tool for the invading spirit.

The Charismatic movement is now several decades old. It promised great revivals and the renewal of the Church(es). Non of these happened. Matter of fact, the world and the churches are rapidly moving away (more than ever) from the Gospel.

We will hold fast on the fact that the Holy Spirit will renew the Church, in His own way and in His own time - through the so called End Time Church and not through the Charismatic movements.

What we need is to live in the wonder of our inheritance:

Christ on the cross has washed us clean from every trace of guilt and ransomed us for God;

The Holy Spirit has poured that love into our hearts;

The Holy Spirit is the joyful reminder of the pure delight of living in the truth of who we are in Christ;

He inspires us to explore the depths of all that.

We have to return to the Biblical principles, that is, there is no revival without:- Repentance (turning to the cross);

- Focusing on Biblical teaching (returning to the Bible);

- Praising God (worship);

- Live in a simple life-stile - this earth is NOT our homeland, we are waiting for our deliverance (fervent expectation of the return of Christ).

Summary:

The New Wave Movement is based predominantly on emotions and not on biblical truths. This movement fosters unbiblical teachings and avoids the cross, the narrow way (Mt 7,14). Moreover, it splits the church even further.

It is important that Christians wait for the establishment of the End-Time-Church. This Church will be rebuilt by the Holy Spirit on the Twelve Pillars of the End-Time Apostles.

Supplement

Nicky Gumbel, the man behind the Alpha Course:

Nicky Gumbel is backing Rodney Howard-Browne and his theology. He received the Toronto experience and now spreading it, through his Alpha Course, throughout the world.

We suggest that where many elements of the Alpha Course are undoubtedly Biblebased, the final foundation is a belief in the phenomenon and sensation-centered religion of the Toronto Experience. The unquestioning acceptance of unusual manifestations (compare 1 Jn 4 etc.) is unbiblical.

The strive four unity is Biblical but unity must be based on the Truth. When Christian groups, denominations and even churches are amalgamating the question must be: Is this coming from the Holy Spirit? Is this an expression of the will of the Son. Unity is not just useless but it is ungodly

without the Truth. Most preachers of unity are closer to New Age mysticism than to the biblical truth.

Conclusion: The Theology of this movement but also ANY other churches (Pentecostal and Evangelical included) has to be regarded as flowed. The reasons cannot be discussed in this short essay. Read the book "The Witness of the Times;" chapters: The Apostate Churches (p.44) and The Churches (p.85ff).

A few words about the so called "Rhema" Church in Perth WA. This strongly pentecostal church was supporting the Toronto Experience in the past. Within the last year (1997/98), under new leadership, became more moderate, moving rather toward the Baptist movement. It is now totally independent and changed its name to Riverside Community Church.

The Church

The Church is a living organism which knows that her present is rooted in God's past and moves to God's future which is always New Life.

End Times: It points us to a New Future.

At the present time we are living in an In-Between Time: We are neither here nor there - we are leaving the present era but have not yet arrived at the New World which God promised to us: The Kingdom of Christ - His Millennial Kingdom is being prepared.

In-Between times are very difficult times, but they are also very important:

During the in-between period of the wilderness wandering the People of Israel (between the Exodus and entering the Promised Land, around the 13th cent. BC) began to develop its religious and national identity;

In Babylonian Exile, an in-between time, the Jews experienced a strengthening of their religious and national identity;

The Book of Daniel was written in an in-between time. This book provided encouragement to the faithful remnant of Jews to resist the demands of pagan culture and religion;

The life of Jesus was an in-between time - in between the Old and New Testament;

We are living now in an in-between time: The old is passing away and the New is emerging: We are preparing for the Coming of the Christ. The Church of the Christ is being placed back on her original foundations (Eph 4,11). The result will be no doubt the strengthening of the Christian faith, values and life - an absolute necessity for the preparation of the Coming Age of the Christ!

How will this new life in the revigourated Church be? We will lay down our lives. We will be prepared to lose EVERYTHING for Christ's sake in God's ministry...the Cross will regain its original meaning: Every Christian in the End-Time Church will be crucified with Christ.*

* Meditate on the meaning of being crucified. For example, a crucified person has no command of his movements, his life, his will, his future - he can not even move his ligaments..!

Liturgy

There is only One God. We worship this One God in Three Persons.

Worship: Man's response in awe in the presence of the Almighty God. At the heart of Christian worship is that One Almighty God. In order to truly worship two fundamental elements are needed: Revelation, through which God shows Himself to man, and response, through which man responds to God. Worship is not an optional extra for us, but an essential expression of the knowledge of God.

The two most important words for worship in the New Testament are: 1. latreia, that is, service or worship (see Rom 12,1) of the individual Christian and 2. leitourgia, that is, service or worship (see this word occurring in Hebr 10,11) of the congregation.

Jewish synagogue practice of the 1st century, in which our Lord and His disciples shared, have included many features of the OT - singing, reading of the Scripture, prayers (like the Psalms), etc. It is this pattern of worship which was refashioned but not abolished by the impact of the Gospel and evolved into historic Christian practice.

The prayer-life of a Christian takes place in two main areas - in private (latreia) and in public (leitourgia), that is, in the body of Christ, in the church (not necessarily meaning a building), in the gathering of the Saints. One is as important as the other.

There are two extremes to be avoided:

1. A purely formal leitourgia, that is, without a worshipful personal participation of the individual Christian. We have to remember that the Liturgy is not a magic formula and not a mere ritual;

2. An individualistic (latreia) worship. Such individualism has no place in the Church of the Christ.

The two forms of worship has to be meaningfully combined in a true Christian Liturgy.

The Liturgy must be kept simple; not striving for individual "satisfaction". The words and concepts of the Liturgy must be absorbed into our souls and spirit through the Holy Spirit. There is an immense difference between a participation in the Liturgy with the Holy Spirit and without Him in our hearts. Without Him it becomes an empty recitation and with Him it becomes the source of life - it conveys divine life, especially through the Eucharist.

The Liturgy is the Prayer of the Church, the Body and not the individual Christian.The individual Christian must participate in it - become a part of it. This participation can take many forms and the liturgy must encourage this. For example, endorsing time for free prayer, led by the Holy Spirit; time for prophecy and interpretation of prophecy; singing and praying in tongues (interpretation is important); time for discernment; serving as reader during the service; singing in the chore, etc.

The Common Prayers, expressing the intentions and aspirations of the Body, has to be embraced by the individual Christian. This embracing can take different forms: a. Praying the liturgy with understanding and heart, b. uniting ones own intentions with the intentions of the Body, etc. For example, during Communion the intention of the Church (the bride of Christ) is to be one with her Beloved. The individual Christian should also awaken this intention for himself (that is, to be one with his Lord).

In a worship of the Body the emphasis is on the "WE" and not on the "I": "We are the Body of Christ." All the liturgical prayers are in the plural and not in the singular.

The first title of THE FOLLOWING SERIES is "The voices from the East". This series will touch on many subject areas which are, through the New Age movement, more and more in bedded into our western culture and are accepted. In many cases they are `the in thing,' that is, we are not even suppose to question them. Never the less, the matter which we will present here are `occult*' and not of God. They have to be exposed as such! The church is called to be the "salt" (Mt 5,13) of the earth and not the slave of the world, not taking in its ungodly ideas. Unfortunately the church which suppose to be the mouth-peace of God stopped to teach such things which are offensive in the eyes of the humanistic world, so God's cry will be loud again: "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hos 4,6).

We have to make some basic decisions before we embark on our new series:

1. Do you believe that there is only ONE God? See Mk 12,29; 1 Cor 8,6.

2 Do you believe that this ONE God manifest Himself in Three Persons? See 2 Cor 13,14.

3. Do you believe that the Bible is God's Book, that is, it is inspired (in its entirety) by the Holy Spirit? See 2 Tim 3,16.

If your answer is No, please, do not read the following series of studies. If your answer is Yes, then you will agree on the following principles, derived from the suggested above mentioned premises:

ad 1. There are no other gods! See 1 Cor 8,4b-6.

ad 2. Any so called god who has not the Son Jesus Christ (see Jn 3,18; Rom 1,2-4) and not the Holy Spirit (see Rom 8,9) is a false god. See Col 1,3; 1 Jn 2,23.

ad 3. Anything which contradicts God's Word has to be exposed, rejected and opposed. See Gal 1,6-9.

* Occult means hidden. In modern theology it is the collective name of all spiritual phenomena which are not of God, that is, satanic in its origin.

There are only two possible spheres in which human beings can live and operate, that is, the divine or satanic spheres. God rejects any human activity which leads away from Him (see Deut 18,10b-12a; 1 Sam 15,23; Gal 5,20; etc.etc.). He is our Creator and will demand from us an absolute loyalty: We cannot serve Him and satan at the same time. See Mt 6,24.

There are many facts we should know in order to recognize satanic work. Some of these facts will be revealed in the coming weeks. Here I wish to mention only one of the most important methods of satan: he seldom works openly, that is, he disguises his efforts behind a truth in a way that the observer will see the truth in foreground and not the lie hidden behind it. One of the most important gift Christians should ask for in our days is the gift of discernment (see 1 Cor 12,10c) - to recognize and distinguish between the divine and the satanic..

I am praying that the Holy Spirit will continually guide you.

Authority

Authority is power or right to act, command, enforce obedience or make decisions.

There is only one prime authority, that is, the Authority of God. Every other authority is a delegated one. Therefore the origin of every authority is God.

The spiritual law of delegating authority: There is no horizontal delegation of authority but rather a `vertical-downwards' one: The delegated authority is therefore always "less" (inferior to) than the authority of the delegator. For example an Apostle can never delegate his full authority, that is, he cannot `create' (duplicate) an other apostle. His delegated authority will be `less' than his: He can ordain someone to a bishop, or to a priest or to a deacon. He can also delegate his authority for other purposes, like appointing certain people to teach, to inspect, to...

Everyone is obligated to obey a legitimate authority as long as his/her use of authority is within the divine order. No one may obey an ungodly demand (see Acts 4,19).

An authority is corrupt when obtained illegitimately (usurped) or used other than according to God's will.

Friend or mate?

Every individual has the right and obligation to improve his character, his unique relationship to the Lord. As we live in a society, not on an island by ourselves, our environment, especially our fellow-man, that is, our associations are very important in forming our character.

A friend is a person who has an active part in our development, accompanying us in our journey which leads us closed and closer to our Creator. A good friend is a great treasure (see Prov 27,9; Eccl 6,14-17). A friend let us be ourselves, he treasures us as we are.

A `friend' who leads us away from God is an enemy!

Mate is a companion.

It is important that the widely used expression `mate' is not mixed up with the concept of `friend.'

A mate is a person whose behavior is not to be questioned. One does not correct a mate, one does not `rat' on a mate and even more, one becomes like ones mate! In our society, there is often a solidarity of evil, wretchedness, wrongdoings, etc., disguised under the popular concept of `mate-ship.'

The concept of mate is based on `mutuality.' Mutual obligation, mutual interest, mutual goal, mutual, mutual and mutual again. There is very little, if any at all, of individuality: Individual responsibility*, individual development, etc. We have to remember that a mutual interest, for instance, (not even) in the Church will abolish the individual responsibility of her members. * We are INDIVIDUALLY responsible for our actions before God. We will be individually judged for them.

Looking at it from a balanced view: Individuality and mutuality complement each other in a healthy relationship. One does not erase the other, rather support each other toward a completion. Illustrating this with the church fellowship: The members of the Body of Christ are individually responsible for their development but receive a positive support in their effort from the church-community. The individual Christian, in return, support his fellow Christians (the Body of Christ) in their effort toward continual maturing in the Lord.

A Christian does not have a `mate' he has a friend (!) the greatest of which is Jesus!

The THREE Existence-modes of Christ

The eternal Pre-existence of the Messiah:

1. "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God" (Jn 1,1).

"Before Abraham was, I AM" (Jn 8,58).

"...all things were created through him (Christ) and for him" (Col 1,16b).

2. "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (Jn 1,14).

"For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven ..." (Jn 6,33).

"You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High..." (Lk 1,31-32a).

"...the price of your ransom...was paid, not in anything perishable...but in the precious blood of the blameless and spotless lamb, Christ" (1 Pe 1,18).

3. "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here! He is risen! (Lk 24,5b-6a)

"After he (Jesus) said this, he was taken up before their very eyes" (Acts 1,9a).

"...we have a great High Priest who has gone into heaven, Jesus the Son of God..." (Hebr 4,14).

"...if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ..." (1 Jn 2,1).

"Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him" (Rev 7a).

"...he (Christ) is the one who will rule with an iron scepter..." (Rev 19,15b).

"They (the Saints) came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years" (Rev 20,4d).

"Before God and before Christ Jesus who is to be judge of the living and the dead..." (1 Tim 4,1a).

"When all things shall be subdued unto him (Christ), then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him (Father-God) that put all things under him, that God may be all in all" (1 Cor 15,28).

"...it is done, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End..." (Rev 21,6a).

Pre eminence

Presence is a state of being in a specific place at a given time.

We acknowledge the different (way or quality of) presence of God. For instance, God, as a creator and preserve, is present everywhere - without His presence nothing can exist: God has not just created the world, He also upholds it.

His glory is there where His holiness is revealed: Where His glory is there is His presence, but not everywhere where He is present is His glory also. For instance, God is present in hell but without His glory.

God revealed to us His presence and His glory in Jesus Christ.

The Glory

The essence of God's glory is His holiness and goodness (see Ex 33,18--34,8). The Son in action both embodies and reflects the glory of the Father (see Jn 1,14; Hebr 1,3).

The giving of glory to God in worship is called "doxology" (see Rom 9,5; 11,36; 16,25-27; Eph 3,20-21; Phil 4,20; 1 Tim 1,17;6,16; 1 Pe 4,11; 2 Pe 3,18; Jude 24-25; Rev 1,6;5,13; the Psalms are full of it.

God's goal is to display His moral excellence, that is, His glory, to His creatures. By doing so He evokes their praise (see Eph 1,3) for what they experience. The doxology of God brings infinite benefits for His creation.

Man's goal in all his actions must be God's glory in the sense of doxology by word and deed.

God so made us that we find the duty of doxology to be our supreme delight and in that way the furthering our own highest good: Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him for ever.

In Christ

The centrality of Jesus Christ: To be IN Christ is to have a totally new world view, a new way of

living and a new standard of personal faith and conduct. Everything changes when we become members of His Body.

Being in Christ or Christ being in someone means a spiritual unity (union). This unity comes into being through baptism in water and in the Spirit. Being in Christ means to be acceptable by God, that is, to be saved.

Because God is in Christ (see 2 Cor 5,19), everyone who is in Christ is also in God.

We are saved in hope (see Rom 5,1-11;8,24), but the reality of salvation is already present: The Spirit that was promised is already possessed, as "fist fruits" (Rom 8,23), by the Christian who from now on lives IN Christ (see Rom 6,11), as Christ lives IN him (see Gal 2,20).

Rom 6,3;8,1;12,5; 1 Cor 1,2; 2 Cor 12,2; Gal 3,28; 1 Thess 2,14, etc.

Christ in you, in me, in us:

Rom 8,10; 2 Cor 13,3.5; Gal 2,20;4,19, etc.

Covenant

on a human level is an agreement, usually formal, between two or more persons or parties.

In the Bible:

A concept of fundamental importance.

The covenants are started with God's declaration, "I will establish my covenant" (see Gn 6,18; Ex 6,4-5). In this level (between God and man) the covenant is one-sided and reflects the unconditional character of election. God promises to be ever faithful to His covenant (see Lev 26,44-45; Deut 4,31).

The essence of God's covenant is captured in the summary promise, "I will be your God and you shall be my people" (see Gn 17,7; Ex 6,7; 2 Cor 6,16-18; Rev 21,2-3).

While the covenant is unilateral in establishment, it is mutual or two-sided in accomplishment. This underlines the importance of personal engagement (sanctification and perseverance). God commands His people to keep the covenant through love and obedience (see Deut 7,9.12; 1 Ki 8,23). The law and the entire worship system of Israel were related to the covenant (see Ex 24,7-8;31,16;34,28).

Although there are several covenants in the OT, they must be considered as one covenant (see Ex 2,24;6,4-5; Lev 26,42; 2 Ki 13,23, etc.).

The OT holds out the hope of a coming era when a New Covenant will be granted by God (see Is 55,3;59,21;; Jer 31,31-40; Ez 20,37, etc.).

The distinction between the Old and the New Covenant comes from the Scriptures themselves (see Jer 31,31-32; 2 Cor 3,3-6.14; Hebr 8,8-9, etc.). Both are the same in substance in that they contain God's promise that He will be the God of His People (see 2 Cor 6,16-18; Hebr 8,10; Rev 21,2-3) by redeeming them in Christ (see Jn 8,56; Rom 9,3-5; 1 Cor 10,1-4). Yet, the New Covenant is superior to the Old Covenant (Hebr 7,20-22.28;8,6), hence the covenants differ in the way they are administered by God (see Gal 3,23-25;4,1-7). In this sense the New Covenant displaces the Old Covenant (see Hebr 8,13;10,9).

Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant (Hebr 9,15;12,24) and the source of all the New Covenant's blessings (see 1 Cor 1,30; Eph 2,11-22; Hebr 13,20-21).

The chief benefits of the New Covenant are justification (act of justifying; being justified) and sanctification [act of sanctification, made holy] (see Hebr 8,10-12;10,15-18;13,20-21).

The curses associated with violating the New Covenant are more severe than those of the Old (see Hebr 10,28-29).

The under aged* children of Christians are under the protection of the covenant entered into by their parents (see 1 Cor 7,14). After they become of age they have to make their own decision for Christ in order to belong to this covenant.

* In the Old Covenant, the coming of age defined as age 12. One of the important differences between the Old and New Covenant is that the members of the New Covenant have to make a personal decision in order to belong to this Covenant. Jesus put it this way: "Whoever believes and is baptized** will be saved..." Mk 16,16. A full decision (fully understanding what is it all about and believing in it) is hardly possible before the above mentioned age.

** Baptism in water AND in the Spirit (see Jn 3,5) is necessary to belong to this New Covenant.

Do we value our freedom of worship?

A story of a 12 years old

The day began very early, 2 am. Everything seemed to be so quiet as we left the house. The white snow reflected the light of the cloudless night. Some dogs were barking in the distance.

Two grown ups and three children were pushing their way through deep snow in the forest. After several hours of walking in bitter cold, suddenly the deserted forest became alive. Dark figures emerged from every direction; moving toward a natural opening in the forest. When we got there the open space was already filled with people. We stopped behind them under the snow covered trees. Looking up with my twelve-years-old eyes I fancied I saw the white dome of a cathedral decorated with sparkling ice crystals reflecting the myriad stars above them.

The focal point of the gathering was a hastily assembled log altar standing in the midst of this impressive Temple of God. The service began while still more people were emerging from the dark background. Brothers and Sisters in Christ were gathering to worship their Savior.

In the great silence of this night prayers were said; soft singing hummed, sounding like the subdued roaring of the sea. The air was filled with awe...the Savior was present!

Suddenly a sharp whistle pierced this awesome Presence. Spotlights stabbed in from all directions. Shouts...words of command filled the air. We grasped each other's hands and the words was whispered, "Secret Police!"

Soldiers appeared, emerging as from nowhere. Kicking, pushing us, shouting, "Christians move!" We were pushed into army trucks. As the convoy started to move somebody began to sing the song "The Savior is here..." The melody spread from truck to truck. The night was filled with the praise of God. The Red Army convoy became the envoy of God's message.

We spent a day in a military camp; praying most of the time...we were interrogated. Looking back at this event the most beautiful experience was that we all had only one name - "Christian!"

A biography with a difference

The usual way to handle such an essay is to tell you about birth date and place, great achievements (if any), to bore you with all kinds of usually unimportant details. I would like to do it another way.

I grew up in a country where to be a church-going person (as we were) was not just not the `in thing' but rather the cause of losing one's job, ruining one's future academic or other plans - I grew up in the `womb' of the Persecuted Church.

My `religious' upbringing, even under these circumstances, did not spare me the agony of searching for values, that is, values which were `discovered' by me and by which I could live. During the years of searching, working in a factory, escaping my home-land, studying engineering, I felt more and more the call to serve the church exclusively.

Everything I had DONE during these `searching years' to arrive at the knowledge of the truth* had been DONE in secret. I had often dreamed about the `free world' and how happy the people must be for they were allowed to seek this truth. My first great disappointment in this `free world' was the realization that most people did not even try to learn to live in that truth and much less did they wish to love it. Most of them appeared to be prisoners of their own `freedom.' The growing love for this truth and this disappointment helped ME to MAKE MY DECISION - I left my engineering study and began to prepare for the Ministry.

* As I see it now, the "truth" which I had found and for which I was willing to commit myself, was the church.

MY theological studies at the University were followed by the study of education in the USA and other related studies in Switzerland.

MY working years in the USA were spent mostly in academic teaching and pastoral work; in Switzerland with Christian counseling; in Australia with pastoral work at a parish level.

I do not know whether you noticed (I tried to make it as obvious as possible) that in the preceding paragraphs I was DOING all the `work': I told you what I have done, what I have studied and worked. If this article would not have been written in English, where the `I' is capitalized (no other language I know of does this), this egocentricity would have been even more visible by capitalizing the `I.'

At this point, there is an important truth which I wish to share with you: My traditional so called Christian upbringing has given me a fervent religious heart but NOT a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. In the center of my heart was an organization, called the church and NOT the Son of God. I became a priest trusting in my own works and values but not in Jesus.

Let me explain to you what I mean: Religion is, man reaching out to God, trying to obtain His acceptance through works of his own; Christianity is, God reaching out to man: "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (Jn 3,16). There is NO other way to the Father but through Jesus Christ (see Jn 14,6). In God's eyes, we are all sinners (see Rom 2,23): There is NO such a thing as a `good man'* and there is NO way for us to `work' ourselves into acceptance by God. But this is exactly what I believed: I thought that I was a good man and with my abilities could bring people into the church (and not to Jesus). I was ego- and church-centered and not God centered. It took God eight years (after my ordination into the priesthood) to bring me on my knees. My spiritual pride was enormous! But the Lord conquered me by bringing me trough an experience which showed me that I am nothing without Him. My prideful life brought me low and almost destroyed me. Here I was ready to receive what HE wanted to give me and not what I wanted... After acknowledging my sins and accepting His Son, God gave me His Spirit! After eight years of being a priest, I became a Christian! Now God could use me according to His will and He did! Now being IN Christ, I started to work for Him according to the guidance of His Spirit.

* There is an interesting and perhaps characteristic Australian expression: "I am good!"

Many things happened as the years went by. Let me mention only three: I am growing constantly in the Spirit (not grown up yet), got married and have three children (one is in heaven) and I am more and more weary of the churches falling away from their `first love' (Rev 2,4) of the Lord.

Well! What am I doing here? My intention is to help open some of the closed eyes and hearts of this `free world' to the love of Christ.

The different states of human nature

1. The state of elevated nature, e.g. the original state of man before the Fall: Adam and Eve possessed the supernatural sanctifying grace and the unique natural gift of integrity (that is, they did not had to die).

2. The state of the fallen nature in which they (and their descendants) lost the sanctifying grace and the gifts of integrity, following their fall.

3. The state of the restored nature, in which man receives the sanctifying grace but not the gifts of integrity, through the redeeming grace of Christ.

4. The state of the transfigured nature: This is a condition of those who reach their supernatural final aim, e.g. the direct vision of God - they receive sanctifying grace in its completion. After the Rapture and the First and Second Resurrection, this condition will be bestowed on the transfigured (resurrected) body with the gifts of integrity in their highest perfection also. This state is the supernatural final aim, which is the direct vision of God.

Paul the Apostle and his ministry

Introduction

Paul, the Apostle, the prototype for all Apostles directly chosen by the resurrected Christ - his life, his ministry and generally speaking his activities are guidelines for the Apostles of the End Time.

The Preacher

The preaching-field of the Apostle was the world - private homes, synagogues (churches), public halls and in the open air.

His most important teaching subjects:

- The righteousness of God, Rom 1,16f;5,20f; Eph 2,7f;

- The love of God, Rom 5,8-9;

- The uniqueness of Christ, Phil 2,6-11; 1 Cor 2,2 - Christianity is never a code of behavior, or an article of belief; it is a living relationship `in Christ';

- The sinfulness of man, Rom 3,22-26;5,12-21;

  • Christ - the wisdom and power of God, 1 Cor 1,25-30;- The living Christ, Acts 22,8;

- The power of the Cross, 1 Cor 1,17f, also the cross as a present experience, Rom 6,16-18; Phil 2,12f - our human effort is no condition of salvation, but a consequence of it;

  • Salvation of all who have faith in Christ, Eph 2,12-16. Alienation has been overcome by reconciliation. Condemnation has been annulled by justification. Human guilt has been cleansed by expiation through Christ's Blood;
  • Justified by God's grace through faith, Rom 1,16-17 - our a. justification by faith not salvation by belief, but salvation through the saving righteousness of God through incorporation into Christ Jesus (sanctification, see TChJCH - The Teaching of Grace) by an active decision of our will, evidenced through our response of faith and baptisms. b. Adoption, Eph 1,5. c. Mediation, 1 Tim 2,5-6. d. Expiation, propitiation, Rom 3,25. e. Redemption, Rom 8,22-23. f. Reconciliation, Rom 5,1. g. Sanctification, 1 Cor 6,11;

- The Spirit within, Joel 2,28;

- Christian life in the Spirit - the Spirit is a. the Guarantee, 2 Cor 1,21-22. b. the Seal, 2 Cor 1,22. c. the Helper, Rom 8,26. d. the Source of all life, Rom 8,10.

[While the believer lives in the flesh, he also lives in the Spirit - heaven and earth meet in the believer.]

  • Transformed life, Eph 2,2f - the Christian is already a new-born person, but he must strive to become what he already is;

- The question of the Law:

a. Our righteousness does not lie in our obedience to the Law, but in our faith in what Christ has accomplished for us, Gal 3,5;

b. Christ superseded the Law and established the New Covenant, Lk 22,20;

- The Church:

a. The Body of Christ, 1 Cor 12,27;

b. The Bride of Christ, Eph 5,22-27;

c. The Household of God, Eph 2,19-21.

God does not necessarily need our ability but rather our availability;

  1. The question of circumcision, Acts 15,7-11;
  • The question of legalism: A Christian is not saved by the good deeds he does, but because he has been saved he must devote his life to good deeds, see Romans.

[Paul developed the concept of adoption into the Family of God which he had borrowed from the human family. The concept of emancipation from the bondage of sin, which he took from slavery. The concept of propitiation, from the idea of sacrifice. The concept of reconciliation from the idea of friendship and justification developed from the law courts.]

- The grace of God, Eph 2,8-9 - God's mercy is such that He chooses to save those who believe in Christ;

- The preaching of the Gospel, 1 Cor 9,16;

- The significance of weakness, 2 Cor 12,8-10 - the cross itself was paradoxical, for what was the sign of rejection with men was the sign of acceptance with God. The cross was evidence of futility, but because of God's grace it became the great symbol of man' future. What was the sign of guilt became the emblem of innocence;

- The right love of people, Col 1,28;

- The future hope, Rom 8,39.

The Pastor

The dangers and pressures of his ministry:

- The physical dangers, 2 Cor 11,23-28;

- The burden of the churches, Gal 4,11.19;

- The pressures of managing the church, Acts 14,21; Rom 15,19-24;

- Theological conflicts, Acts 13,45;24,5-9; Phil 3,18-19;

- Cultural conflicts, Rom 1,14f; 1 Cor 10,32f;

- Distress at failing members, Acts 15,36-40;

- Pressures from materialistic society, Acts 17,16;

- The pressures from the demands of disturbed and difficult people, Acts 14,8-11.19;13,45;

- The pain of constant rejection, 2 Tim 1,15.

What enabled the Apostle to cope under such pressure?

- He accepted God's call from him, Rom 11,13;

- He believed in the significance of his work, Acts 20,24; Rom 15,15-17;

- He committed his life to the work of the Gospel, 2 Cor 4,8-9.16;

- He disciplined his desires, 1 Thess 2,9; 2 Thess 3,7-8;

- He fashioned a bond of caring with his people, Acts 20,36-38;

- He gained strength from the support of his friends, Rom 16;

- He held fast to the Scriptures, see Hebrews;

- He lived boldly, 2 Cor 5,6f;

- He did not carry false guilt, Acts 18,5-6.

The Apostle's cross-cultural ministry:

The church is only the Church when she is the Church in mission. The Church is God's agent on earth through which God expresses Himself to the world: God has no other redeeming agency. When people are called to come to Christ, they are called to His Body, the community of believers, to take His message to all others, see Acts.

The Apostle as agent of change:

- All mankind share an inability to be right with God and a susceptibility to sin. There is no reason for any distinction between man: Everyone has sinned and is far away from God's savings presence, Eph 2,11-16. Paul was preaching a new nationhood: One People under One God;

- Equality between man and woman, but respecting the God given differences, 1 Cor 11,3; Eph 5,22f;

- Freedom of man, see Paul's practical standing on slavery, Philemon 15-17. Paul was a quite revolutionary.

The prophet

- The warning to turn from sin and rebellion against God, Acts 17,30;

- The Age to come, Rom 8,23; 1 Cor 15,51-54;16,22.

The fact that Paul actually met the resurrected Jesus (a common factor for all Apostles) changed a belief into acknowledge. He knew that the resurrection is not just a hope but an assurance of what will happen.

Suggestions for daily prayers

a. Morning prayer

While you are getting up, greet the Lord.

Prepare your day in prayer (in details). See Eph 6,10-18. Put on the Armor of God, see Eph 6,11f.

Read the Bible and reflect on the text you read. What does this word mean for you? What does God want to tell you through it?

Put yourself and your family under God's protection for the whole day: Use the protection of the Blood of Christ: `I put myself (and my family) under the protection of the Blood of Christ.'

Close with worship and praise God (the Psalms can help you in this).

b. During the day

Depending on the situation, lift your thoughts up to God in thanking, praising, asking, etc. For instance: "Thank you Lord"; "Forgive me Jesus"; "Please, help me"; "I love you Lord," etc.

In trials and temptations command: "Under the protection of Jesus' Blood and in His Name I command you, evil spirit, to leave me immediately!" Note the corresponding Scripture: "Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4,7).

Put on the Armor of God regularly (see Eph 6,11f).

c. Evening prayer

Thank God in detail for all the things you received or experienced during the day.

Ask for forgiveness for all your sins (in detail).

Seek the Lord's guidance in your decisions for the coming day.

Every Christian has to work on himself systematically. For instance, choose a virtue you want to work on and ask the Holy Spirit for support: Seek out a personal plan of action which fits your personal needs and circumstances and go to work the next day strengthened by your morning prayer. Check in the evening the result of your decisions, whether you succeeded or not. Learn from your mistakes and change, if necessary, your plan of action. After a few weeks work on another virtue. Listen to the Holy Spirit and consult your spiritual counselor from time to time.

Intercession*: For your family, Church, co-workers, the conversion of sinners, peace, etc.

* It is scriptural that Christians pray for each other. This will also benefit the prayer himself, among other things, by helping to look away from our own needs and become less self-centered.

Be specific in your prayer-requests.

Put yourself and your family again under the protection of Jesus' Blood for the night.

Close your evening prayer with worship.

Learn to be silent before your God.

The individual (detailed) arrangement of your daily prayers should be worked out by yourself.

Healing, Baptism in the Holy Spirit; after the Baptism; Prayer for inner healing, including our memories.

The Sacraments are offered to us:

Water Baptism - is offered to us by God to deliver us from an inherited mistrust of Him which comes from the sins of other people as well as from our own tendency to sin. God "needs" our help and willingness to deliver us.

Spirit Baptism - by the power of the baptism in the Holy Spirit we can overcome any mistrust of God. We put our whole life including our past into His loving hands. To the depth of our soul and to the bottom of our heart we need to be open to God and willingly yield to Him so that He is able

to pour His healing power into us. He will enfold and make our souls and bodies well again and heal our relationships with other people.

Prayer for inner healing:

Come before God our Creator in humbleness and confidence: "From the beginning of mankind You took care of all men including me in a loving way. Your Son carried all our disappointments and all our despair and suffered for us. I thank You that through His suffering I can be healed; and believe that You will begin my healing right now!"

Try to remember in these moments of prayer your childhood and the time of growing up:

How was your relationship with your mother? Were you lacking in her motherly love, therefore still hunger for it and seek recognition? Or maybe you grew up in an atmosphere of a love and care that was too protective, therefore your expectations of your friends and the people around you are too high and exaggerated?

How was your relationship with your father? Maybe you needed more fatherly love in your youth to gain self-confidence and strength? Were you lacking in that strong love that can come only from a father?

Although you can not change your past, you should know that God always cared for you like a father and mother and now He wants to confirm this love again to you.

Ask God also for the healing of all the hurts you had in your relationship with your brothers and sisters.

Some of us had bad experiences when we were going to school and we still suffer from these hurts and inner wounds.

How was your time of growing up?

How is it at your job?

How are things in your marriage?

Ask for forgiveness for the disappointments and hurts you caused others as well!

Become reconciled with yourself, with God and your neighbors.

There are certain basic principles which you have to learn and act on accordingly:

1. If you live in love and obedience no one can hurt you within. Hurt comes when you open yourself up for it through hate and disobedience.

2. You cannot hold others forever responsible for your problems. To grow up means also to take responsibility for your life, your problems and wounds.

God has a plan for your life; He will give you new tasks: He needs you to represent Him in His Church and also in the world. He will heal the deepest wounds and hurts in your life. He will heal the roots of your personality!

The baptism by John and by Jesus

The baptism of John was a `preparatory' baptism (see Mt 3,1f). He baptized in view of the coming Messiah, preparing His way.

Difference between John's baptism and Christian baptism:

"Repent..." (see Mt 3,2): John prepared the way for the Messiah. He urged people to prepare their hearts for the coming Savior. His baptism was a `sign': People showed their willingness to accept the coming Kingdom.

In Christian baptism sins are forgiven*: The baptized will now receive the Holy Spirit and enter the Kingdom.

* Only the sacrifice on Calvary made the forgiveness of sins possible. The Blood of the Lamb opened the gate to the Kingdom of God.

"Repent..." (see Mt 4,17): The Messiah has now arrived. To enter the Kingdom man has to change his heart.

The baptism by Jesus: Generally Jesus Himself did not baptize* (see Jn 4,1-2).

The baptism during the life-time of Jesus was different from that of John's baptism. This baptism was not "in view", in preparation for the coming of the Messiah - the Messiah has already arrived. This baptism was for the forgiveness of sins and came into effect after His death on Calvary (like a will comes into affect after the death of the testator).

The receiving of the Holy Spirit followed belated, that is, at Pentecost.

*Although He must have baptized His Apostles.

It would be unthinkable that those people (the Apostles) who received the command to baptize (see Mk 16,15-16) would themselves not be baptized.

The Beatitudes

Mt 5,1f

It proclaims the lifestyle of all Christians. It requires a change of heart. Those who are serious with keeping Christ in the center of their life will study and strive to observe this lifestyle of Christ.

1. You are poor in spirit when you live humbly before your God and communicate humbly with your fellow man.

2. You will mourn because of your sins, the ungodliness of the world and the churches.3. You are meek when you live according to your heart and not according to your "elbow".

4. You have to love righteousness and hate sin.

5. You are merciful when you love your neighbor as yourself (see Mt 22,39).

6. You have a pure heart when you keep Christ in it (see Rev 3,20).

7. You are a peacemaker when you adopt the attitude of Christ and turn the other cheek (see Mt 5,39). Architects who build bridges with the wooden Cross of Christ. Christ taught us to love our neighbor (see Mt 22,39) and not to kill* him.

8. You must learn to praise God in persecution! Keep an eye on heaven while walking through hell on earth.

* What ever `by products' the arm-forces are promising, the basic and unchangeable aim of every military training is to teach you to kill.

ad 1. See Mt 19,16-24: No one can fulfil the commandments..! Repentance and humility would of been necessary!

ad 6. How do you change your heart? The first step is admission of poverty: "Blessed are the poor in spirit..." We cannot earn God's blessing, but we can receive it when we admit that we do not deserve it. The second step is sorrow: "Blessed are those who mourn..." Joy comes to those who are sincerely sorry for their sins.

ad 7. "Those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness" (Jas 3,18). Never underestimate the power of a seed.

ad 8a. Have you been left in the dungeon of doubt? Have your listened and "heard" the silence of God..? The problem is not God's silence but your ability to hear!

8b. The Kingdom of God is worth suffering and even dying for: God sat in silence while the sins of the world were placed upon His Son.

Most of the time we are not asking too much; we are asking too little. More often than not we ask for resolving the temporary and not the eternal. For this reason Paul writes: "We do not know what we ought to pray for" (Rom 8,26a)... but, for this reason, we should let the Spirit intercede for us (see Rom 8,26b).

A prayer: "Lord do not punish me by granting that which I wish or ask."

Who are my closest relatives?

Mk 3,31-35

We are involved in two different levels of relations:

- Physical or natural relations, like brothers, sisters, uncles, nephews, etc.;

- Spiritual or supernatural relationships, like brothers and sisters in Christ and the Family of God, that is, the Church community.

While we cannot neglect our obligations toward our natural relatives we have to realize that our spiritual relations are more important than that of the natural ones.

There is an important process in many natural relationships called `cutting the umbilical cord.' For example, children's growth are hampered if they do not become independent from their parents. It will also often be necessary, in order to serve God, to severe, at least to certain extent, our natural ties.

Our priorities are very important. Christ and His Family first and everything else will fall into its right place. God must remain in the center of our lives.

Our humanistic, that is, God-less society places immense emphasis on the physical and mental (psychological) development of its members. While we should not neglect these faculties of the human being, we should not forget our spirit and must strive for his full development.

The whole problem comes from a basically false knowledge of the human being. In the eyes of secular science man is two dimensional = body and soul. Therefore, we have to `discover' our spirit.

We do not live from bread alone (see Mt 4,4). If we neglect the development of one of our essential human `components,' we (the entire human being) will suffer the consequences. While we are training the body (eating proper food, sports, exercising, etc.) and the soul [intellect] (years of systematic learning, training our will, etc.) but neglecting our spirit, we cannot be surprised that we are growingly unable to cope with the "products" of our intellect. Everything is out of balance: We are technologically advanced far beyond our ancestors, but at the same time we are not really in control of our own achievements. Modern technology, for example, is often used more for destruction than for the benefit of mankind. We are boosting with our achievements but unable to control rising crime, divorce, immorality, selfishness, etc.

The spirit is the `property' of the human being through which the Creator is in touch with us and which will follow His will.

Here I am talking to Christians: We must spend as much time to `train' our spirit as we spend to train our soul and body - we have to regain the lost balance. We feed our body daily and conscientiously while our spirit is starving. We do not live by bread alone, but by the Word of God (see Mt 4,4). If we wish to regain our balance we have to start to read the Word of God (Bible), we have to worship God individually and in groups (Sunday Service, Bible study, prayer group, etc.), we must learn to listen to the Lord (meditation) and follow His directions.

ISRAEL

God's promise* can never fail. It may suffer a timely delay**, but God always fulfills His promise...often for a REMNANT (see Neh 1,1-3; Ez 14,22; Zech 8,12f).

* Gn 17,1-9: A covenant is a two sided agreement. God never fails to keep His side of it. ** Because Israel failed to keep its side of the contract, God delayed the promises, connected to the covenant.

Some examples: Israel had to wait 40 years, wandering in the desert, before it could enter the Promise Land, because it rebelled against and disobeyed God (see Deut 1,19-40;4,27-28).

Israel lost temporarily the Promised Land several times when it turned to other gods (see 2 Ki 24,19--25,1-11). After God's People repented they could returned to the Land (see Deut 4,29-40; Neh 1--3).

The last great dispersion (see Deut 4,30: "...latter days...") took place after the Israelites rejected their Messiah (see Mt 27,25). This exile ended in 1948. The Lord brought His OT People back to their Promise Land.

The Remnant inherited the Land again (see The Witness of the Times).

At the present time, Israel obtained a partial promise of God: He allowed them to occupy some parts of God's Land.

The promise and demand of God toward His People is always the same: "I will be your God and you will be my people" (Lev 26,12).

God made the first step toward the Israelites: He IS their God and to prove it to them, He returned them, against all odds, to the Promised Land. In spite of all this, the Israelites did not recognized their God. They turned to other gods (money, military might, diplomacy, etc.). The modern state of Israel does not fear God; as humanists do, but fears man!

The latest development in this (in majority) ungodly nation is the trading of God's land for "peace". "`Peace, peace', they say, but there is no peace". Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all...So they will fall...they will be brought down..." (Jer 6,14-15).

Instead of turning to God, they are turning to an unholy alliance (see Is 28,15). They are looking for a solution to their problem basically by satan*.

As it seems, Israel must go through more tribulation before they finally will recognize their God** and follow Him obediently! But a REMNANT will be saved (see Rom 9,27).

The Palestinians have the privilege to live in Israel under Israeli supremacy as long as they support Israel and cooperate in a peaceful building up of the land. Israel has the obligation to help (see Deut 10,17-19) its villing foreign population to integrate and live peacefully within its borders (see Ex 23,9; Lev 19,34).

* The dominantly Moslem Palestinians (Philistines) are the tools of the devil, trapping Israel, leading it to its destruction.

** That is, their Messiah, Jesus the Christ.

The civilization of the 20th century

The history of mankind is a continual falling-away from its Creator. God intervened many times to correct the bearings of man's history. He sent the Great Flood and saved Noah and his family (see Gn 6-9). He made a covenant with Abraham (see Gn 12f) and chose a nation for Himself. This nation (Israel) failed to bring the message of God to the other nations. As a matter of fact, Israel itself failed to conform to God's will and sank into the same mire as the others. At the end, it refused to accept the God-sent Messiah. God again, in order to help mankind, made a New Covenant with a remnant (of Israel), chosen out of the Old Covenant.

The New Covenant People (out of all nations) of God degenerated quickly and failed to fulfill their task. At the end of time, our time, God again will renew His Covenant with the Remnant, chosen out of the Second Covenant. This Remnant, the End Time Church, will prepare those who are willing to be prepared for the Coming of the Messiah who will rule the earth for a thousand years.

The preparation for the End Time Church* is under way. At the same time, satan's preparation for the Great Falling away is also at hand. Our 20th (and the beginning of the 21st) century is therefore characterized by PREPARATION. Mankind will never learn. The Signs of Degeneration which we are seeing is as old as humanity: Drug abuse, sexual immorality, growing violence, increasing of wars, openly accepted homosexuality (sodomy), exchanged roles of males and females, growing occult involvement, thriving of false religions, secularized churches, the numbers and intensity of natural catastrophes are growing, etc. Man's reaction is the same today as it was at the time of Noah (see Mt 24,38-39). There are false messiahs appearing all over the world (see Lk 21,8) and misleading those who are not putting their trust in Jesus the Christ, the only true Messiah.

Christ encouraged His followers to watch the Sign (see Lk 21,31). We are being prepared for His Coming. Lift up your heads and rejoice! See Lk 21,28.

* The End Time Church, is a church which relies exclusively on the Holy Spirit and not on humanistic worldly gimmicks and ideas. For this reason the promises of God to His Church will again be granted: See Mk 16,17-18; Jn 17,24;14,16-18;17,16.21; Mt 28,20.

THE DIVINE LITURGY OF THE CHURCH

Remark: Every house-church should develop its own particular liturgy.

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart..."

Mt 22,37-40; Mk 12,30-31

The Two Great Commandments are summarizing the entire will of God. The structure of these commandments are important to observe: FIRST comes God (the vertical dimension of our love) and then our fellow man (the horizontal dimension of our love). The love of our neighbor is on the same level as our self-love: "as" yourself. Here we can observe the importance of proper self love - not too much and not too little.

From the two dimension of love, mentioned above, results a sign of the cross (+): Love is often connected to suffering: Who truly loves will experience the cross - rejection, misunderstanding, misuse, etc.

Love your God with your heart (feelings), soul (life), mind (with your faculty of thought and moral understanding) and with all your strength (without yielding).

The Our Father

The "Our Father" has two basic parts: The first contains the things which are pertaining to God, the other the things concerns our well-being.

We start our prayer by addressing the person we are talking to: "Our Father in heaven".

I. The first part contains three wishes:

1. Your name will be honored - in our time, the Name of God will be misused habitually. God said: "the curse consumes the earth, its people must bear their guilt" (Is 24,6). We must honor and bless God's name.

2. Your Kingdom come amongst us - justice, peace, full knowledge of God, etc. This Kingdom will be amongst us during the Millennial Kingdom of Christ.

3. Your will be done here on earth as it is being done already in heaven (in the presence of God).

II. The second part expresses our needs:

1. We are praying for our daily bread - for body and soul. We have to feed our body to survive (we eat); we have to feed our soul and spirit to be able to maintain our spiritual life - an undernourished soul cannot fulfill God's will. We have to "eat" God's Word (read the Scriptures) daily and ask for His grace to build us up – frequent Holy Communion.

2. We are failing continually. Therefore we must ask the Lord frequently for the forgiveness of our sins. If we are in Christ, this forgiveness will be granted to us provided we also forgive everyone! God's forgiveness is conditional.

3. We ask the Lord to avert all temptations which we could not resist. Here we have important obligations, that is, to continually work with God's grace in building up our character, to eradicate our weaknesses and not go voluntarily into temptation.

The deliverance from the devil, at this time, can only be a partial one. But we are looking forward to the time when he will be bound and locked away (see Rev 20,1-3).

`I am crucified with You...'

Many visions are related to this prayer. Those who wish to be Christians, must have the will and the courage to follow Christ. He will lead His people on the narrow path (see Mt 7,14). Being "crucified" with Jesus means also to carry ones God-given cross (see Mt 16,24). Those who are "crucified with Him" will also be "buried with Jesus": The old man must die in order that the new

man can emerge (see Rom 6,6; Eph 4,22.24). This is the only way we can be `raised' with Him (see Rom 6,5) and partake in His Kingdom (see Mt 13,43; Col 1,13).

In the Name of the Father...

The sign of the cross, accompanied by calling on the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), is the shortest form of our Creed.

Lord, You have promised...

The Lord places great emphasis on the Gathering of His People. That is, where more then one Christian are together, there is the Church. And where the Church is, there is Christ, the Head of the Body.

The granting of the requests of the Body is certain. The members of the Body (in corporate) will always ask according to the will of its Head.

Confession

Without repentance and confession there is no forgiveness.

Before the Sacred Liturgy starts the members of the Body individually and as a Body will turn to the Lord, repent and confess their sins.

It is important to note, that the Liturgy is the prayer of the Body and therefore it is an act of the same. The individuals are taking part and profiting (according to their disposition) from the Liturgy, but the Liturgy is primarily not a prayer of the individuals.

The liturgical `confession' of sins has two parts:

1. In the first part we confess our sins which we committed after our last liturgical gathering.

2. The Church has received the authority to forgive sins and she does so through her authorized minister.

The Gloria

This is one of the most beautiful praises of the Trinity.

1. The Father: Lord God; Almighty, Heavenly King;

2. Lord Jesus Christ: The Son, Lord God, Lamb of God, the Holy One;

3. The Holy Spirit who shares the glory with the Father and the Son - God Himself.

Creed

The Creed is a summary of our basic belief. It was compiled in the first few hundreds of years of the Early Christian Era.

Here we express our faith in:

1. The Father, who created everything;

2. Jesus Christ, who is the Son of the Father, begotten not made, God Himself. He became man for us and saved us by dying on the cross. He rose from the dead and ascended into heaven to the right hand of the Father. We are expecting His return to rule the earth for a thousand years, after which He will judge all men and restore the creation to the Father - the Father again will be "all in all" (see 1 Cor 15,25-28);

3. The Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, who spoke to us through His prophets;

4. The Holy Apostolic-Catholic Church, the sacraments, the resurrection, the rapture and the eternal life with the Holy Trinity.

Teaching

Readings of the Bible and the sermon.

Greeting of Peace

"Peace I leave with you..." (Jn 14,27).

The Peace which the Lord gave us, His followers, we now pass on to our brothers and sisters in Christ and all those who are preparing to enter the Body of Christ (the catechumenen).

Holy, Holy, Holy

We celebrate the Divine Mysteries with our brothers and sisters in Christ and with all the angels of heaven who are also present (see Rev 8,3-4).

Consecration

is the central part of our Divine service. By commemorating the Last Supper of the Lord (see Lk 22,19) we are `recreating' the event, which happened two thousand years ago.

Jesus, the Lamb of God, offers us His Flesh to eat and His Blood to drink. In anticipation of His sacrificial death, He gave Himself, as a true sacrifice, to His followers as a nourishment for their soul and spirit.

The Lamb is slaughtered; our sins are forgiven; we are prepared for the banquet: First here on earth, in His Body, in this Eucharistic sacrifice, but then in His Kingdom (see Lk 22,30). The Eucharistic Meal is a fore-taste of the heavenly banquet of Christ.

"This is my Body... and this is my Blood" indicates that the bread and the wine, offered in this Sacramental Meal, will be transformed into the Body and Blood of the Christ. In other words, we are receiving Him. Our soul and spirit receives the One (in a mysterious way) who saved us. See Rev 3,20.

See Jn 6,26-71; 1 Cor 11,27f;10,16 and The Teaching of the Church of Jesus the Christ (Sacraments).

Epiclese

is a prayer of the Church, asking the Lord to perform the same miracle which He performed at the Last Supper.

Let us proclaim...

Here we remember the Three main stages of our salvation.

Prayers after the Consecration

In this prayer we approach each Person of the Trinity

1. Father

2. Jesus the Christ

3. Holy Spirit

Asking the Lord for one of the most important gifts, that is, unity. With this prayer we are joining the prayer of the Lord Himself, see Jn 17,11.22.

Commemorate

Membership of the Body of Christ does not cease with our physical death. The members of the Body who died in Christ will join (immediately after their death) the Lord - they are in His presence. They remain members and are active by interceding for us (see Rev 6,9.10 = the souls of the Saints are not idol in the presence of God). We remembering these Saints which are gone before us. We asking for their intercession; we hoping to join their company and let us be inspired by their heroic faith.

Remembering

all those who are leading the Body of Christ on earth, our relatives, friends, benefactors, etc. etc.

The Holy of Hollies

was in the innermost part of the Temple. This was the place where God presided.

After the consecration, Jesus being on the altar (under the forms of bread and wine), the altar becomes the Holy of Hollies...the elements are hiding the Lord Himself.

On the `cross of the altar,' the sacrifice, offered once and for all on Calvary, are sacramentally renewed. Now we worship the risen Lord who is amongst us in a very special way: Sacramental Presence.

See The Teaching of the Church of Jesus the Christ (Sacraments).

`Breaking the Body'

is a symbolic act - it symbolizes the broken body of Christ on Calvary - He gave His life for our salvation.

In actual fact, the Sacramental Body of Christ cannot be broken: In every part of the two appearances together is the whole Christ present (see The Teaching of the Church of Jesus the Christ [sacraments]).

Preparation for receiving Holy Communion

There is no necessity to emphasize that we have to be properly prepared to receive such a noble guest. At the beginning of the service we have started to prepare ourselves: Confession, confessing our faith (Creed), etc. Here we perfect our preparation, for example, by praising God: "...His praise shall continually be in my mouth..."; by thanking Him for His protection and deliverance, etc.

Invitation

As the celebrant elevates the Body and Blood of Christ, he invites the Believers to approach the altar with reverence and receive the Lord.

Communion

The Lord is now entering our heart (see Rev 3,20). He nourishes our soul and strengthens our spirit. We are again enabled to follow Him closer.

After returning to his seat, the believer will spend some quiet moments adoring the Savior who is now his personal guest (see Mt 8,8) - He entered now his `house' (meditate on Lk 19,8.9).

Closing Prayers

We, as the Body of Christ, will now give thanks for the benefits we have just received: "Blessed be our God..."; We glorify You Father, Son and Holy Spirit..."; "Lord, Jesus make holy...".

Blessing

The Church blesses!

In the power of the Christ and in the charge of the Church, the celebrant blesses the Believers.

Dismissal

Now the believers are sent out to: "Love and serve the Lord"; to bring the Good News to others; to become a living sacrifice in the world, like their Lord was; to go, to do and live boldly as Christian witnesses..!

The New Age and Angels

Since the First Coming of the Messiah became a historical reality, everything, even the most insignificant event, deed, thought or spiritual happening, has to be evaluated through this divine intervention.

We have to realize that there is no such thing as spiritual vacuum: We either live in the realm of God or in the sphere of satan.

During the last few decades, the so called spiritual healing became the "in" thing. It has many forms and names. One of the recent ones claims to heal through angelic powers. The `healers' who practice this `therapy' always claims to have seen angels, received promises and supernatural powers. The people involved usually seems to be average and sincere people. Those who take advantage of this `therapy' are also average citizens. The `success' of these healing sessions are documented and seem to be real.

What should we Christians think about them and should we also strive to receive such a healing?

The most important question we have to ask is whether the person involved is a Christian and whether the offered `therapy' is Christ-centered? Everything, also healing, have to bring us closer to Christ. If this is not the case, the powers involved in this healing is not of God.

Satan is known to be a miracle-worker (see 2 Thess 2,9; 2 Cor 11,14) and he will use every available method (even healing of the body) to get hold of our soul and separate us from Jesus.

Furthermore: The Church and her servants received the power of healing (see Mk 16,18b; 2 Cor 12,9) effected by the Holy Spirit. There is no report in the New Testament of angelic healings and in the view of the above mentioned fact, the members of the Church will not need such an intervention.

To summarize our thoughts on this subject we must say that the healing powers of the New Age are not of God and to be avoided by Christians.

Corporal punishment

There is a growing concern about rising crime. Parents, schools and the state are trying to counteract diminishing morality and control rising crime. We hear different suggestions and are experiencing different attempts to salve the humanly unsolvable growing decay.

The members of the Christian Family (Church) should be concerned with the growing falling-away of social order but we have to remember that:

- We cannot suggest Christian solutions to a non-Christian world - they have to be converted before they can even grasp the meaning of Christian principles;

- We should not adopt in our life non-Christian solutions to `solve' problems.

There is, for us Christians, a basic and important rule: Follow Biblical advice in dealing with everything (not just in relation to the above mentioned problems). By applying biblical principles we also have to remember that we are not living in the Old Testament but we are the People of the New Covenant: We should not return to the Law!

To apply physical punishment, to agree to introduce capital punishment, to see the solution by

continually adding to the already alarmingly large policeforce, to introduce new laws, etc. is nothing but returning to the Law, to the Old Testament.

Jesus Christ is the solution to all our problems! And Him we have to live and propagate! The Holy Spirit will lead His Church into all truths (see Jn 16,13). Receive the Holy Spirit!

Miracle

is an act of divine power contrary to the laws of nature. God suspends the natural law or process to bring about:

a. physical healing;

b. natural happening outside the laws of nature;

c. spiritual healing.

ad a. See Mt 3,1-3;11,5; Mk 5,21-43*,. etc.

ad b. See Lk 8,22-25; Mt 14,22-33;14,15-21, etc.

ad c. See Mt 9,1-7;2,5,** etc.

* Ultimate physical healing is the raising from the dead.

** Physical healing restores (for a short time) a mortal body. Spiritual healing, like the forgiveness of sins, restores the immortal soul. It enables the person to live in God's presence for ever. For this reason, a spiritual healing is immeasurably superior to a physical restoration.

The reasons for Jesus' miracles:

- They were a part of His messianic ministry, see Mt 11,5;

- They (partially) proved His messianic identity (see Jn 5,36; 10,37-38).

The question has to be raised; Healing at any price?

Many people (Christians too) are turning to ungodly healing powers (persons like spiritualists; methods like oriental meditation) just to receive healing. We have to remember that satan can also heal the body (compare 2 Cor 11,14-15; 2 Thess 2,9). The price will be your soul!

Salt and light of the world

Mt 5,13-16

Salt is a substance which gives flavor to our food, necessary for the well being of our body and used also to purify and preserve.

Light is the source of illumination. Without light we cannot see. Light guides us, it shows the way.

Christ compared His followers to salt and light. They are in the world to purify and to give meaning to the ever darkening secular existence. They are in the world to show the way to Christ, THE Light of the World (see Jn 8,12.

As soon as the church (and individual Christians) loses her God-given task, that is, the salt loses its taste and the light goes out, she becomes a useless instrument in God's hands.

We are in the world, but not of the world (see Jn 8,23): We must continue to serve our Lord and not compromise His teachings. We cannot serve two masters (see Mt 6,24)!

House Church/Group/Fellowship

The Church has to die in order to experience a rebirth!

The `resurrection' of the Church will be `accomplished' by the Holy Spirit via re-establishing the Charismatic Offices (see Eph 4,11). House-Church-structure is the structure of the End Time Church.

The Church must be missionary or she is not the Church at all.

Different suggestions and comments:

Christian love is the most fundamental quality of the Church in all her manifestations: "By this all shall know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (Jn 13,35).

Worship is an essential element of the worldwide Church.

The Church is missionary - she reaches out to people.

The Church is prophetic - she prepares the way for the Returning of Christ.

We are the Church of servants!

The Church must frequently renew herself - the House Church (group) also.

The Church is the total commitment or the total giving of herself to Christ - this is undertaken by her members.

The Church in the house is always an organic part of the "Parish" - which is a summary of House Churches.

The small group meeting as a House Church is the basic building block of the life of the Universal Church - this is so because we need to know others intimately in order to become the Church.

Only in the House Church can we actually fulfill such injunctions as: "Love one another earnestly from the heart" (1 Pe 1,22); "Care for one another" (1 Cor 12,25); "Bear one another's burdens" (Gal 6,2).

In the Home Church (group/fellowship), we can get to know and take an interest in a group of people who will also get to know and take an interest in us. In such a group we can, in time, take off the masks we wear and begin to share our weaknesses, doubts and fears as well as our strengths, certainties and abilities.

All this requires commitment!

Shortage of time?

If the House Church (group/fellowship) receives your second-best attention - it will only ever be second-best in character. Second-best attention means second-best results. Priorities have to be re-arranged!

The meeting of the Home Church should take people's other commitments into account, but this does not mean that attending Home Church (group/fellowship) merely fits in after everything else.

The House Church will only fulfill its God-intended potential if it is the central activity in the lives of (at least) the majority of its members.

Some fundamental factors:

Every House Church (group/fellowship) has to be integrated into the Universal Church and function, directly or indirectly, under her authority.

It is necessary to share in a common life to be part of the Christian Family of God, based on commitment to one another and to God.*

Not everyone in the group will immediately have (or needs to have) this depth of commitment. This means that the House Church is able to include, even invite, others who may come to it initially without such commitment. These remarks imply the need for a core group. This core group will make the expressed necessary commitment to one another under God.

*We can extend this commitment. In this case, we are not merely talking about a broader range of common activities, for example, studying, celebrating the Lord's Supper, etc., but also a deliberate choice to pursue a common life - the House Church is infinitely more than a Bible-study group, a discussion- or study-circle, etc., it IS Church - a living Cell in the Body of Christ.

Discussion within the group:

Any discussion should be with the intention of seeking the mind of the Spirit.

The House Church (group/fellowship) is made up of people who are imperfect and perhaps immature:

Only a fellowship which faces disillusionment, with its unhappy aspects, begins to be what it should be in God's sight and begins to grasp in faith the promise that it given to it (see Jn 14,27).

God will not permit His People to live in a dream world - the reality is that we are all sinners!

At this point another distinction becomes useful: The distinction between expectations and hopes - hope does not insist on its own way, but recognizes that people at time are bound to fail.

We are all in different stages of our spiritual walk - the House Church also.

We have to distinguish between the general calling of Christ and the specific stage we are at in our personal pilgrimage.

What God asks of us is not to be people who "arrived", who have all the answers, but to be the people who are learning to love Him and each other, who will be people who are not afraid to ask for forgiveness - who seek to grow.

As we are `becoming,' our children are also allowed to share our pilgrimage. They learn that the Christian life is not necessarily a straight line affair, but very much an up and down matter, full of doubts, uncertainty (sometimes even despair) as well as confidence, joy and assurance.

When a community welcomes people who have been on the margin of society, things usually go quite well to begin with. Then, for many reasons, these people start to become marginal in the House Church too. There is something prophetic in people who seems (are) marginal and difficult: They force the Church to become alert, because what they are demanding is authenticity - love is practical.

The House Church in the community:

The Church has to nurture a genuine community life as a `signpost' to the Coming Kingdom of Christ and has to become a visible `bridge' between the present and future.

The Church and Christians exist primarily for others and for mission to them.

Within the House Church:

The members need to build up one another into the likeness of God in Christ - through fellowship with God and with one another.

The more we build one another up in the Church, the more effective we are in mission.

The more we engage in mission, the more we broaden the vision and deepen the fellowship of those in our Church.

At first the House Church will place more emphasis on the `inner-mission' - building and developing the relationships with one another. Eventually, however, the subject of evangelism has to move to the forefront of concern. A church which is not missionary is a church doomed to disintegrate.

The whole life is to be brought in contact with the Gospel

After the example of Jesus we should be seeking out the needy and the marginalized.

Evangelizing:

Paul's method was to work from a `hot center.' This would mean an evangelist moving into an area and setting up a home. He would work from that center. Through contact and a holistic (all-round) ministry, he may find people who are willing to meet him in either his home of theirs. This would be a teaching, caring community time.

This approach may still be applicable to the so called Third World Countries. Former Communist countries may need this and the method which will be described below - a combination of the two.

In our Western Society, the direct approach often has no great promise, because the de-religionizing of vast sectors of people in our modern society has deep-seated and long-range historical causes. The indirect approach, by really being communities of mutual encouragement, witness and service and building genuine Christian Cells in the desert of modern life, is the one we must follow - the world wants to see redemption. It is not interested in it being talked about.

The creation of Christian Communities is the most radical action one can ever experience, especially if it involves breaking down social barriers, proclaiming liberty to the "captives" and establishing justice. It is the coming to concrete reality of a new life that will not only show what is wrong with the old, but point so clearly to the New which is Coming that the old can no longer command anyone's loyalty and devotion - we demonstrate what salvation means!

Social responsibility:

The Home Church (group/fellowship) is well placed to identify the particular needs of the people in the street and to strive to alleviate them.

This responsibility is naturally extended to all members of the Church - bodily, materially, mentally and spiritually.

The God of the Bible is calling Christians today to live in fundamental nonconformity to the existing society - the Church must form a lifestyle for Christians in an Age of Hunger.

The Church community which lives simply and without waste, helps people to discover a whole new way of life, which demands fewer financial resources but more commitment to relationships.

The House Church, the strongest organizational unit in the world's history would appear to be that which we call a cell; for it is a remorseless self-multiplier. It is exceptionally difficult to destroy. It can preserve its intensity of local life while vast organizations quickly wither when they are weakened at the center. It can defy the power of governments and it is the appropriate level for piercing open any status quo.

Such CELLS survived Communism and other oppressions - they will also successfully function in the future.

Some additional advice:

For the most part, discipline goes on in a House Church in a quiet, unobtrusive, unspoken way. It takes place, often without anyone realizing it, through the words of a hymn, the reading of a Scripture, the message of a study and through thoughtful action and example of others and through prophetic messages.

Disciplining in serious matters is the task of the leaders of the Church. They will carry it out according to Biblical principles, see Mt 18,15-17.

We cannot compartmentalize our lives - in the Early Church, the worship of God was something that characterized the people's entire lives, wherever they were and whatever they were doing, see Rom 12,1-2. The key elements in their meetings were "service" and "edification", i.e. they were to minister to one another and God in all that they did or said, so as to build one another up into a genuine community and into Christ Himself, see Eph 4,11-16.

Just as every individual needs time for growth, so also will a group only gradually become a House Church (fellowship).

It is important to remember that only through death does new life come; "resurrection" only takes place if a person or group is willing to carry the Cross!

Healthy openness:

One of the best way of helping people to open up is to do it oneself.

The Holy Spirit is the Living Spirit of this entire organization - He animates it, gives His divine guidance and connects every individual member to the Lord and to one-another!

You have a terminally ill relative?

Consider the following thoughts:

Do you see God as your refuge and strength?

Do you realize that we are all terminal?

Do you claim these scriptures as being true and alive in your mind and heart?:

See Ps 125,1; 2 Tim 2,19; Jn 8,12.51; Is 25,8a; Ps 34,15;45,1;62,1.2.

Communication between you and your relative (husband, wife, mother, father, etc.) is more important than ever before.

Live one day at a time - make it your business and ambition that today is going to be as good as possible and let God take care of the rest.

Allow your "partner" as much freedom as possible - terminal patients want to contribute something of value. For instance, unfinished business should be completed.

Tell your `partner' your fears and emotions.

Do you have anything to forgive or ask for forgiveness?

Release your `partner' - do you love them enough to release your hold on their life?

See Is 40,31; Deut 33,27a; Rev 21,4.

So called modern music

In order to get our point across in this short essay, we will simplify the issue and put music into two categories:

a. Classical music and

b. `modern' music.

Music is, per definition, pleasing or harmonious succession or combination of sounds.

ad a. In this essay, we understand under classical music every music which is characterized by harmony, simplicity, formal structure, emotional restraint and originating from (a product of) a classic culture.

ad b. In this essay, we understand under modern music every music which is characterized by the opposite of the above mentioned.

Music is one of the highest art forms of every culture. For this reason, the maturity of a culture can be measured by its music - so also its immaturity or decay.

Music is one of the most influential art forms. For this reason Christians must be aware of what kind of music they indulge in.

Our Western Civilization reached its cultural peak at the end of the last century (interestingly, the same applies for other highly developed cultures, like the Chinese). The beginning of this century has seen a sharp development of technology and science and a rapid decline of culture. Our century is dominated by technic.

The decadence (degeneration) of our culture is apparent in every form of art: Music, painting, sculpture, architecture, etc. We will restrict our view to music.

The so called modern music has originated in the primitive cultures of Africa. It was brought to the Western World by slaves. They continued to cultivate, in their new environment, the primitive culture which they brought with them from the jungle. Because the decadent western culture was not able to provide for further cultural development, the music of the `new-comers' filled the vacuum with an incredible speed. The primitive music, offered by the negroes*, was enhanced by modern instruments. This `new music-style' is now spread all over the world and embraced by all (decayed) cultures, especially by the younger generation.

* We are paying homage to Christian Black Americans, who often worship Jesus according to their traditions. We recognize their deep spirituality and accept their culture if it is cleansed from ancestral occultism.

Human history repeats itself: We can observe the above mentioned process in previously fallen cultures. A primitive culture develops (in every respect), reaches its peak and decays. If it survives the fall, a primitive form takes over and the process starts all over.

Let us look at the origin of our `modern music.' In primitive cultures every art form is connected to religion. Primitive religion is characterized by superstition and occult* worship. Music is made and accompanied by dance to get in touch with the spirit world for all kinds of purposes; the musicians and the dancers are falling into a trance and becoming possessed by spirits. If we look carefully the producers and participators of modern music, we will see the same manifestation as we can observe by their jungle counterpart - ecstasy, convulsing, inarticulate sounds and movements, etc. Modern music is a door to the spirit world, that is, to the world of satan!

"You shall know them by their fruits" (Mt 7,16). The `fruits' of this music is a widely spread drug-misuse, immorality, promiscuity, suicide, violence, involvement with the occult, etc.

* Occult means hidden. In modern theological language it summarizes all ungodly spiritual involvement.

There is no such a thing as Christian rock!

We have to realize that it is not just the words which matter but also the music and the spirit-world behind it. We cannot separate the tree from its roots!!

Modern music is one of the most effective instrument of satan!

What is the remedy? How can we discern what is of God and what is of satan? The Lord our Jesus the Christ provided His family, that is, Christians with the gifts of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Cor 12,8-11). Christians must urgently ask for the gift of discernment (see 1 Cor 12,10c).

Creation verses evolution

Our century is the century of great deceptions: Communism, Fascism, evolution, atheism, psychology (in its general practice), upsurging of the mystical, spreading of false religions, growing gullibility of modern man to believe in all kinds of superstitions, churches growingly teaching unbiblical "truths" (prosperity doctrine, over emphasizing experience, etc.), feminism, the cults, New Age, etc.

Here we will concentrate on the theory* of Evolution. Evolution became a religion - it is a `scientific' dogma - unquestioned, intolerant, boasting of proof, whereby there is no proof!

Symptoms throughout the cosmos and microcosmos reveal that there is a DEVOLUTION and not an evolution: Everything begins to die as soon as it is born! The thermodynamics (branch of physics that deals with the relationship between heat and other forms of energy, esp. mechanical energy, etc.) of the universe shows that the universe is running down. This law states that there is less and less energy available for work.

This `scientific' theory is based on the belief that higher life-forms are developed (evolved) from lower life-forms. There is a frantic search for the so called missing link - many times believed to have be found but every time turned out to be a `scientific' blunder.

*The theory of evolution based on an incredible chain of accidents! Every major event happened by accident. One just wonder how any intelligent creature can believe in accidents as a scientific proof for the existing complex life on earth. We cannot escape the fact that man HAS to believe in something. It is tragical that often the fantastic (more the better) has more credibility than the truth!

There is a horizontal evolution: This evolution, for example, "created" many types of dogs, cats, etc.

There is no vertical evolution, that is, an inter-specie-development.

The different species were created directly by God. There are species which disappeared (for what ever reasons) and there are new species which are created.

Every created specie has its vital role in the creation, has its way to procreate and survive.

There is proof for the FACT of Creation!

Evolution is based on a two dimensional concept of man - body and soul. Christian know that man is three dimensional - body soul and spirit. As soon as we acknowledge our third dimension and live in it we will be instructed of our origin. See Hebr 11,3.

What to do? The process all men have to go through to able to receive the truth is: Repent, accept the Lord Jesus as your Savior, receive the Holy Spirit who will then lead you into all truth (see Jn 16,13) including the truth of your (our) origin.

THE great, drastic and immediate change which took place on earth, effecting everything (organic and inorganic matter) was the Fall of man (see Gn 3). This event changed the nature of man and beast and effected inanimate nature too. The restoration of this will take place in two different phases:

1. During the Millennial Kingdom of Christ, see for example, Is 11,6-9;

2. After the Last Judgment, see 2 Pe 3,10-14; Rev 21,1-6.

The `evolution' of man:

There is no evolution but a degeneration of man. That is, the man God created at the beginning, was highly intelligent (see Gn 2,19) and had a very long life-span. The consequence of the Fall was a gradual estrangement from God which brought a gradual decline with it. Man gradually fell into darkness. This effected his life-span, intelligence, etc. - man reverted to the `primitive-age.' This degeneration or devolution reached different stages - going from highly developped to primitive and even more primitive. For instance, from highly developed cultures (which disappeared from the face of the earth), to iron age, bronze age, stone age, etc. - see remarks below).

God intervened by cleansing humanity through a great Flood (see Gn 6-9)*. This brought certain changes and a new beginning into man's history. Unfortunately, it did not last very long (see Gn 11). Man degenerated again and again**. The up and down in man's history: creating cultures, destroying others; creating again and destroying anew.

* Dying of the dinosaurs ? The date of the dispersion? Etc. - It is important to note that the so called facts of archeology do not demand to change biblical dates to be earlier (see 1. `Ser 3' - Creation or Evolution? 2. `Church 1' - Creation or Evolution? and 3. The Exodus Problem by Donovan Courville, 1971).

** Civilizations with highly developed culture and technology has been discovered.

No society is known at any point in history which did not have a fully developed language (See Encyclopedia Brittanica, 15th ed., Macrop., vol. 19, p. 1033): If anything, the evidence clearly shows that languages have become simplified out of a more complex past. We see indications of deterioration after a previous higher level which hints at great (catastrophic) events.

The New Man, which is being created, is the Man filled with the Holy Spirit. This New Man is the `seed' of the New Creation. This New Creation will be established in two phases:

1. Through rapture and resurrection, entering the Millennial Kingdom of Christ, see 1 Thess 4,13-17; Rev 20,4-6;

2. Inhabiting the New Jerusalem after the Last Judgment, see Rev 21,1-5.

The creation of the world is exclusively and directly the work of God. He created it in six periods of time (called "day"* in the Bible). The researching of the `how' of creation is the privilege of man endowed with an intelligent soul and spirit – guided by the Holy Spirit.

* See Ps 90,4; 2 Pe 3,8.

At the beginning of this essay we talked about a great deception. It is now time to acknowledge that behind all these false teachings is the great deceiver (see Rev 12,9), that is, satan. More we approaching the time of the Second Coming of Christ, more deception we will have to experience (see Mt 24,11). Christians will do well to ask urgently for the gift of discernment (see 1 Cor 12,10c).

The Word of God is not limited to a certain time, culture or understanding. The Word of God, who created all things, is eternal and unchangeable. Man must learn that all human wisdom can only be true and unchangeable if it is supported by and based upon the Word of God.

Scientist with a deep respect for the Bible recognize that a wealth of information is waiting to be discovered and interpreted. There is NO discord between true science and the Bible.

The concept of family

There is only one acceptable concept of the human family and that is, the concept of God, the Creator.

The human family, as God intended it to be, father, mother and their children is an untouchable concept.

The natural family is the cell of society and the Church. A healthy family is a healthy foundation of the same.

Every tampering with this concept shows a decay and will lead to the downfall of society, culture and ultimately the human race.

Artificial interference with human conception

Any unnatural manipulation of human conception is a grave sin and will incur God's rejection.

The conception and birth of children must be achieved through natural, God given, means. Man does not have the right to interfere with this natural process.

The child must be the fruit of the natural intercourse of husband and wife.

The only morally allowed exception: The insemination of the wife's eggs with her husbands sperm is under certain circumstances allowed. One must seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Unnatural human affections

See 1 Cor 6,9-10; Rom 1,26-28; Gn 19 (v.5); Rev 21,8.

Christian education

The holistic view of Christian education

1. The House Church ministers to children, prior to their birth, through her prayers and other practical help to the parents. After the birth, she welcomes the child into the Church in a tangible way - blessing the baby and its parents.

2. One of the most important ways to touch the life of children is to let them become part of the House Church of which their parents are members.

Since the children are a regular part of the Home Church, they also have models before them other than those provided by their parents. They also learn the dynamics of what being God's family means: Its responsibilities, its tensions and its struggles; the costs as well as the rewards.

Activities for the entire Church-group can vary from singing, dancing, a mime, playing an instrument, reading a story, reciting a poem, playing a game and time of prayer with the children. It is good to spend time specifically with children at some point in the Home Church gathering.

The House Church should, from time to time, allocate other activities from the entire Church Family - games, visits to the cinema, picnics, common meals, etc.

Children contribute a great deal to the life of the Home Church: The simplicity of children's prayers, questions, observations and loving can be a profound experience and encouragement.

As the children enter primary years, they should remain longer in the group, entering more into the praying, study and discussions. When they reach mid-teenager years, they will want to join in all that happens in the meeting, as part and parcel of their desire to join the adult world.

One of the biggest contributions a Home Church has to make to teenagers is the quality of relationships with adults and other children. These relationships are nurtured not only within the House Church meeting but outside of it too - through simply spending time together - operating as an extended Christian family.

3. Children's Christian education must continue during their schooling. There are fundamentally two options: a. Establishment of Christian Schools and where this is not possible b. the parents and the House Church must supplement the secular education with Christian truths.

ad a. Where it is possible, the establishment of Christian Schools are of paramount importance. The Christian School will provide, not just Biblical truths but also a Christian environment. It will look at every subject from a Biblical point of view.

ad b. The parents and the Christian community must do everything in their power to counteract the negative influences of the secular environment, so also the secular school: Christian life and truths are to be communicated to the child, through life and word.

4. What is Christian education?

It is something that is meant to be total and natural - permeating all of life.

God wants us to "immerse" our children in His truths and perspectives in everything we do, think and to let it direct all our coming and going. Our children should hear us talking about God and talking to Him, worshiping Him, see our lives based on Him and enjoying Him. God wants us to point our children to Him through all of our common activities so that all of their thoughts and actions are shaped to love Him!

We are praying for and with the children.

These guidelines of Christian education are for the home, the Home Church and the Christian School.

Christian School:

Christians are working together to provide Christian school education for their children.

The school must employ mature, born-again (see Jn 3,3) Christian teachers.

Christian schools shall not replace education in the Christian home and in the House Church. It works as an extension to home and church leading children to see that true knowledge and wisdom must acknowledge God.

The Christian school is working hand in hand with parents and the House Church to lead the children to a personal surrender to Christ and to commit all their life to God. The Christian school must view the growing knowledge of God and response to Him as an integral part of the total educative process.

Christian schools are a place where knowledge, scholarship, TRUTH and wisdom are highly valued and where young Christians are nurtured to apply their faith to all areas of life and able to evaluate the world in which they live.

The Christian school should aim to present God's truths and perspectives on the totality of life, aiming to equip the children to think in a Christ like manner, "demolishing arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God" and "taking captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Cor 10,4.5).

Discipline has to be seen in the total context of disciplining young people to be followers of Christ.

Christian education is interactive and needs to relate to changing events and circumstances in the world around us. Teachers should be alert to opportunities to present Christian perspectives both directly and indirectly to see that "no one takes us captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human traditions and the basic principles of this world rather that on Christ" (Col 2,8).

Christian School: Staff and students aim to look at life as:

a. God created it and intended it to be - God's direction;

b. sin has distorted it (realistic view) - sin's misdirection;

c. Christ who wants His people to reclaim all areas of life for Him - Christ's redirection.

Christian schools should be the place where the vision and mission of the school is owned by the parents who form the body which operates the school.

Tradition...the Law

See Mk 7,3.5; Mt 5,17f

Tradition: Things (music, trade, beliefs, etc.) handed down from one generation to an other.

At the time, when the tradition was established, it was for the benefit of the people.

A Christian tradition aims to bring people closer to God. It is an expression of love for our Savior.

The Law:

Before the Law was given man did not clearly know the will of God.

The Law expressed the will of God and proposed to prepare God's People for the coming of the Messiah.

The Law on one hand expresses what we should not do or have, on the other hand its supports what we are allowed to do or have. For example: "Do not steal" - we are not allowed to take what is not ours, but, on the other hand, we have the God-given right to have what is rightfully ours.

Every tradition and law is good as long as it expresses, directly or indirectly, God's will. As soon as it diverts our attention from God, it becomes an unholy thing.

The basic function of a religious tradition and law is to help God's People to preserve or bring God into the center of their lives.

As soon as a tradition and a law becomes the center it fails in its purpose - we then, in actual fact, are worshiping the tradition and or the law and not God: This is idolatry.

The very Law, which was given to the Jews to prepare them for the coming of the Messiah, became a stumbling block. The Law became the center of their lives - God and His will was displaced. How could they recognize His will, His Son, Jesus the Christ.

The Messiah came to fulfill the Law (Rom 10,4): His sacrificial death on the cross fulfilled the Law! From there on, those who are IN Christ are not under the Law (see Rom 7,4.6): We who are baptized in water and in the Spirit (see Jn 3,5) and walk with Him are not under the Law!

One of the great dangers in every Christian life is to revert to the law (see 1 Cor 15,2; Gal 2,16; Gal 4,19,21;5,1.4) and uphold traditions and laws which are not strengthening their relationship with Christ but separating them from Him.

More or less every church is guilty by reverting to the law. For example tithing: This Old Testament law is not existing in the New Testament. The teaching of those churches proclaiming this doctrine, require from their members 10% of their income and declaring (explicitly or implicitly) that the rest of the 90% is theirs to use as they desire. The New Testament truth is that God has a claim to everything what we have. We are the caretakers of what He gave us and have to use it according to His will. This will of God will be known to every one of us Christians through the Holy Spirit, who is within us!

"...through their fall salvation is come to the Gentiles..." (Rom 11,11)

Look at our own sins and weaknesses: Does not God often use them for our benefit and the benefit of others? (see Rom 8,28)

Often our own fall can be a chance for others. Often our own experience can be (positive and negative) an opportunity for us and others to learn and to grow spiritually. Experience can also enable us to help others more effectively.

Is there an unconditional love?

See Mt 5,45

If there is an unconditional love at all, we have to look for it in God and certainly not in man.

What is love?

a. Human love is a firm determination to do the will of God. It is an act of will!

b. Divine love is the firm determination to do His own will. God is His own norm, there is no one higher then Him.

True love includes benevolence, kindness and patience but also firmness and justice.

God's love is unlimited in intention but it is limited in performance and in effect: God placed certain limits on His love toward His intelligent creation by giving us a free will, by giving us the opportunity to become His children. He will not force His Fatherly love on us. A two way street must open up here - love must flow in both directions in order to be a love between Father and child.

God loves everything He created!!

Is the love of God the same for everyone? No, it is not. There are different kinds of love:

a. The Creator loves His intelligent creation and preserves it under every circumstance.*

b. The Father loves His children and grants them everything they need, especially those things they need to follow His will. Grace is abundantly lavished on us, intelligent creatures, in order to find our Father, accept His will and follow Him. He provided us with a Savior, His own Son, who died for us to save us. He is willing to give us His Spirit who will guide us back into the Fold of the Father.

The condition of the Father's love is the acceptance of His Son. There is no other way to the Father, see Jn 14,6. If the children wish to live in their Father's house (see Jn 14,2) they have to use the only path (see Jn 14,6) leading to it, that is, Jesus the Christ.

Men are not automatically sons and daughters of the Father but "slaves" (see Gal 4,7); salves will not inherit (the Kingdom), sons will (see Rom 8,17). Children will become adopted sons and daughters after they accepted Christ (they are IN Christ, see Gal 4,4-8), that is, after they received Jesus into their hearts and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide them.

The example of the Prodigal Son shows that returning to the Father's House is conditional. It depends on the son's conversion (turnin away from the past), see Lk 15,18.

God's fatherly love must be reciprocated by His children. Those who refuse to love Him will separate themselves from Him for ever - the damned (those who refused salvation) are not His sons and daughters.

* This unconditional love of the Creator is manifested by His Preserving will: He will not annihilate even those who are, through their own doing, condemned after they receiving the opportunity to serve Him - hell is eternal.

Temptation

Temptation is a negative influence, an enticing to commit something that is sinful.

There are three different sources (or the combination of them) where temptations can come from: a. Our own fallen nature, b. the environment and c. the devil.

a. Sin brought a disorder within man. Our will and our feelings are not in harmony; our desires are often directed toward ungodly things; our self-centerdness robs God of His rightful place in our life.

b. Our fellow man and the environment (in disarray because of sins) is a "wealthy" source for us to be led astray.

c. The devil: See 1 Pe 5,8.

Temptation in itself is not a sin! See Jas 1,12. As soon as we agree to the temptation, the sinning begins, see Jas 1,15.

Sin does not begin with the accomplished act - sin starts in the heart, see Mt 15,19;5,27-28.

We are all living on a spiritual battle-field - "everyone is tempted" (Jas 1,14a). The good soldier of the Lord will use his God-given weapons to defend himself.

Christians therefore must:

- Put on the "armor of God," see Eph 6,11-18 (for practical application, see GCL - Appendix);

- Protect yourself daily with the Precious Blood of the Lord: "I put myself (and my family) under the protection of the Blood of Jesus," see Rom 3,25a; Eph 1,7; 1 Pe 1,19. We are redeemed through the Blood of Christ - satan is defeated through His Blood: Pleading the Blood on ourselves causes the enemy to flee.

- When you are under attack, command the devil to leave: "I resist you satan and command you, in Jesus Name, to leave, see Jas 4,7. As a defeated enemy (compare Gal 1,16 and Col 1,14) the devil has no right over us. He can harm us only if we allow him to do so. Using our free will ("resist") he will flee from us.

In all this the Holy Spirit will guide us, will strengthen us, will build us up and heal us.

- The request for (especially) inner healing is not a luxury, it is a necessity: the more whole we are, the closer we can walk with the Lord.

And what should we do if we fall? Do not wait! Confess your sin(s) to God immediately and ask for His forgiveness. The precious Blood of Christ will cleanse you from all your sins. See 1Jn 1,7.

Is God omnipotent?

God can do everything He pleases that is in harmony with His nature (see Ps 115,3 also Eph 1,11). He is almighty = El Shaddai.

God cannot do everything! He cannot associate with sin (see Habakkuk 1,13). He cannot go back on His word (see 2 Tim 2,13). He cannot lie (see Hebr 6,18).

God cannot contradict Himself - sin, not keep His promises, deny Himself, etc.

is contradicting His very nature. God cannot change. He cannot undue what is already done (Paris cannot be the capital of Turkey).

Many people have a God of their own making - but it is not the biblical God! Are you living by faith in the all-powerful biblical God?

Lent

Blessing with ashes:

It is an OT custom to do penance in ashes (see Jonah 3,6). Ashes reminds us that we are transitory and that God created us from the "dust" (see Gn 2,7). To put ashes on is an outwardly sign of repentance, but the real penance has to come from the heart (see Mt 6,16-18). Without this inward repentance the outward penance is worthless (see Mt 15,8).

We human beings prepare for important events in order to get into the `spirit' of things. For example, we do not just turn up at our wedding, we joyfully prepare for it. The time of preparation is just as exciting as the event it self.

Our church-calendar has two major events for which we Christians are preparing: Advent before Christmas and Lent before Easter. Good Friday and Easter Sunday are the "foundation" of our salvation - is there a more important event for which we should prepare ourselves?

The Bible recommends three ways to prepare for Lent: Fasting, alms-giving and prayer (see Mt 6,16;6,1; Rom 12,12). Every one of these three `exercise' has its special significance also for the coming Holy Week events:

1. Fasting is usually a renunciation of food and drink. For long term fasting we should consult our spiritual advisor. Short term fasting, like a day, should be no problem (still, in certain cases one should consult a Christian physician -diabetics, pregnant women, etc.). One could also renounce one meal a day, etc. See GCL – Appendix.

Every spiritual fasting must be inspired, accompanied and terminated by the Holy Spirit!!

In the Body of Christ, spiritual fasting should be accompanied by other members of the Body - with prayer, advise and fasting.

Fasting restrains and disciplines our body and, to a certain extent, it is a physical "suffering"; Jesus suffered physically for us on the Cross.

Fasting counteracts one of our vices, that is, gluttony.

2. Alms-giving: It cannot be emphasized enough that children should be led on the path of righteousness from their earliest years on. They should learn, for example, the value of giving. We all have to learn sacrificial giving - Jesus gave everything He had!!

Alms-giving disciplines our soul and counteracts an anther of our vices, that is, covetousness.

3. Prayer: In prayer we unite our spirit with the Holy Spirit. During Lent we should make a special effort to pray for those for whom Jesus died on the Cross, that is, for sinners. Compare Phil 1,19: The prayer of the Saints will turn sinners around that they might be saved.

Thus, these three elements of preparation encompass the entire human being: body, soul and spirit.

Baptism

Baptism is a Two Way street:

We give our lives to Jesus and upon this we receive our membership in His Body, the Church (see The Teaching of the Church of Jesus the Christ – sacraments). After we walked with Jesus and persevere unto the end (Mt 10,22; Rev 2,26;21,7a) we will be saved.

Some thoughts on infant baptism:

Christians are always in the world but not of the world (see Jn 15,19). Before Constantine members of the state were not necessarily members of the Church (the Church was a separate identity). After Constantine `united' the church with the state (world) the infant which was born into the state was also automatically born into the church - therefore infant baptism was logically introduced...logical yes but not Biblical! Compare Jesus' command: "who believes and is baptized..." (Mk 16,16).

Every human being has its purpose

On earth:

The most important task of every human being is to find his God-given purpose. Finding it, will mean the fulfillment of the individual but also that he will be a blessing to others. God can use us to the fullest at the `place' which He assigned for us.

In the presence of God:

(a). Before the Rapture: Firstly: The task of the Saints, in the presence of God, is to intercede for their brothers and sisters on earth (see Rev 8,4). Secondly: To prepare themselves (see Rev 19,1-9) for their task in the Millennial Kingdom of Jesus.

(b.) Namely, they will return with Him to co-rule the earth for a thousand years (see Rev 20,4.6).

(c.) In the Heavenly Jerusalem (after the Last Judgment) they will joyfully praise God for all eternity (see Rev 21,1-4).

When did the human Jesus know what the divine Christ knew?

In the man Jesus there are two natures: The divine nature which at the conception adopted a human nature (see Jn 1,14). The divine nature of the Word is eternal (see Jn 1,1) and all knowing. The human nature of Jesus is subject to all the natural processes* which are common to all men - He became man and is one of us (see Hebr 2,16). Therefore the above question can be reformulated: When did the Word convey His knowledge to the human Jesus? The question cannot be answered with absolute certainty.

As far as the human nature of Jesus is concerned, it is important to realize that His knowledge grew (see L 2,52 – "increased...") and was not from the beginning an instant and all comprehensive knowledge.

* Because of these natural processes Jesus had to learn at least most of the things what everyone of us has to learn: Talk, think, speak, eat, walk, work, a profession, etc. He had to learn the Scriptures - not just to read it but also to understand it. Many* things He learned from His mother, father and other human beings, but there are certain things, like His ministry and the Scriptures relating to it, He learned from the Holy Spirit - with whom He was in unity.

  • Like His miraculous birth, the appearance of the angel Gabriel, etc. (see WT; visions).

The possible time at which He knew of His origin and (some of His*) mission was when He became twelve years old (see Lk 2,41-52, especially vs.46.47.49). This is the OT age where a person became an adult.

* Remember that it was said in v.52, that He was (still) "increasing" in wisdom.

Matthew 17,1-8

The appearance of Moses and Elijah

The dead of the OT were "resting" (see 1 Sam 28,15) and waiting to be released from their "prison" (see 1 Pe 3,18). During Jesus' death (Between Good Friday and Easter Sunday) His soul descended into the "lower parts of the earth" (see Eph 4,9) and after "preaching" (see 1 Pe 3,18) to them the Good News (the salvation through Himself), He freed them and brought them into His presence - into "paradise" (see Lk 23,43, also 2 Cor 12,4). From there on the souls of the Just are actively participating in the life of Paradise, that is, worshiping God (see Rev 7,11-15), interceding (see Rev 8,3-5;6,9-11), carrying out different assignments on God's command (Mt 17,1-8)* and preparing for their re-entry with the Christ (see Rev 19,14) to co-rule the earth with Him (see Rev 20,4.6).

* Moses and Elijah were called to service before the others were released from their "prison".

The appearance of the two Saints (Moses, symbolizing the Law and Elijah stands for the Prophets) point to:

1. The fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets;

2. Christ, according to His human nature, had to receive strengthening before the coming events, that is, His crucifixion.

The appearance of the Cloud (the presence of the Father) and His encouraging testimony will be understood by the Apostles after Pentecost.

The transfiguration of Jesus is the anticipation of His resurrection.

"You are not under the Law but under Grace" (Rom 6,14).

The Law was given to prepare God's People for the Coming of the Messiah.

The Law was the Task-master (see Gal 3,24) preparing the Jews for Grace.

The Law was written on the forehead (see Ex 28,38;Deut 6,8;11,18) of the Israelites; Grace, the Holy Spirit is in the heart of God's People (see Gal 4,6).

The coming of the Messiah heralded the end of the Law (see Rom 10,4).

Now we are not under the rule of the Taskmaster but under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The believer who accepts Jesus as his Savor will receive His Spirit. From this moment on he is not `listening' to the written Law but to the tender voice of the Holy Spirit. He is doing (or not doing) things not because the Law commands it, but because the Holy Spirit directs him to do so.

Let me illustrate this change in the following, still existing demands of many churches, that is, the giving of the tenth of one's income (tithing). Among the many laws of the OT we will also find the law of tithing (see Lev 27,30). God demanded from the Jews to return to Him one tenth of everything they received from Him - harvest, animals, salary, etc. This meant that of everything what they owned 10% was God's and 90% was theirs. The church which is following the rule of tithing is actually reverting to the OT.

In the New Testament we have an entirely new and different covenant with God - God has a drastically new agreement with His People:

In the Old Covenant, the Covenant of the unredeemed, the people were walking with God and preparing themselves (God preparing them) for living in Christ some day. In the New Covenant, the Covenant of the redeemed, the People of God IS living in Christ (are in Christ, see Rom 12,5) and there is NO separation between the redeemed (what he is and owns) and the Redeemer: Everything what we are and have (100%) IS His! By listening to the voice of the Spirit we will continually learn God's will for us and for our belongings.

By adopting the Law (any law) one reverts to the condition and status of the unredeemed. Those who live according to the Law nullate the redeeming death of Christ (see Gal 2,21).

It seems incredible, but it is true that man (churches too) are more comfortable in living under the Law then under the guidance of the Spirit. Why? The history of Israel will give us the answer, see 1 Sam 8: Israel was rather willing to subordinate itself to a visible king whom they could see then the invisible God. The visible king (they thought) was predictable while the Lord whom they could not see, was threatening to them.

We are afraid of the unknown and rather willing to live with the predictable bad then the promise of a good which is not yet visible, not yet ours. We want certainty!

The choice is ours! We can live an unredeemed life under the Law or take our chances with the Holy Spirit (who is always gentile but can be, at times, uncomfortable) and live the life of the redeemed.

The Passover Meal

Introduction

It is an immensely valuable historical and spiritual experience to participate in a Jewish Seder*. The Passover familiarizes the participants with the background to the Eucharist by evoking the original context of the Christian Pascha.

In the Liturgy of the Passover we experience something of the worship Jesus the Jew knew and loved. We find ourselves moved and powerfully included in this ancient living tradition.

Christian liturgy is a wild olive branch grafted (compare Rom 11,19) on the Jewish cultivated liturgical tree (compare Rom 11,24). Judaism is our parent faith!

An important effect of our participation in this ancient Jewish liturgy is that we learn to love the Jews as God's chosen people, people of the divine covenant which has never been revoked (see Rom 11,28-31).

* The celebration of the Jewish (OT) Passover could take place in a Jewish (Messianic Jew) home.

The Old Testament Seder -

commemorates the deliverance of the Jews from slavery: God brought them out through the waters of the Red Sea (see Ex 14,22) to the freedom of the Promised Land (see Josh 1,2).

The New Testament Passover* -

commemorates (see Lk 22,19-20) the fact that God brought His Son Jesus Christ through the deep waters of death and raised Him (see Lk 24), and in Him us, to the eternal freedom of a life of triumph (see Col 3,4). The Christian Passover is the celebration of our `passing over' from the slavery of sin to the promise land of the liberty of the Children of God. Christ elevated the Jewish Passover to the Passover of the "New Covenant" (see Lk 22,20b). The symbols of the Passover are pointing to the Messiah (for the Jews still hidden) for us Christians fulfilled in Jesus Christ.* The New Testament Passover should take place within the Body of Christ, the church-community.

In the Passover of the Old Covenant the symbols are anticipating the coming of the Messiah - in the Passover of the New Covenant this anticipation is fulfilled!

See detail instructions above.

`Charity begins at home'

This common expression indicates that we help everyone else after our own needs are met.

This expression seems to indicate common sense but before we quickly agree to it we must ask a question or two: What needs are we talking about? and How much trust do we have in God's providence?

It is well known that human `needs' have no limits. There is seldom a rich man who believes that all his needs are met.

Only a human soul who is in bedded in God (received a deep healing) and guided by the Holy Spirit is capable to trust God and look for the needs of others even before looking to satisfy his own needs.

Only those who rely on the Holy Spirit will experience that "those who seek the Lord lack no good things" (Ps 34,11) and "seek first the kingdom of God...and all these things (see v.31.32) will be given to you" (Mt 6,33).

Tolerance

There are two kinds of tolerance:

1. Civil tolerance;

2. Dogmatic tolerance.

ad 1. This tolerance says that we must be tolerant (love) everyone regardless of his/hers color, religion, ethnic background, etc. (God makes no such differentiation) Every Christian MUST adhere to this tolerance (see Mt 22, 37-40).

ad 2. Dogmatic tolerance means that all religions are true and all their teachings are correct; we have to tolerate /accept them. NO Christian can adhere to this tolerance. As we believe that there is only ONE truth (God does not contradict Himself) and ONE Way to the Father (see Jn 14,6), Jesus Christ. We are obligated (because we love our neighbors) to tell everyone the truth!

To tell the truth is to be preceded by living the truth! (see Mt 23,3)

Living the truth is unconditional. That is, we have to live according to the truth regardless of what, when and where.

To tell the truth is conditional. It depends on circumstances*, on time**, on the person we are talking to***, etc. It is often so that it is better to be silent and wait (but live the truth) till we can (must) speak. But there are circumstances, times, etc. when we HAVE to tell the truth regardless of...

* ** *** The determining `factor' is the Holy Spirit!! All those who are representing the Truth must have been baptized in the Holy Spirit and must act under the authority (authorized by) of the Church*.

* Here we are talking about The One Apostolic-Catholic Church of Jesus the Christ, that is, The Mystical Body of Christ.

As a whole, the People of the First and Second Covenant of God failed. There is only a Remnant (see 1 Ki 19,18; Is 1,9;10,20-22, etc.) who were, are and will remain in the Covenant* (see Rom 9,27).

*These are the People who can and must represent the Truth.

The reason of the failing can be described in many ways. We will formulate it in this way:

1. The First Covenant People refused God's direct guidance (see 1 Sam 8) replacing Him with elected kings (see 2 Sam 2,4;5,3; 1 Ki 12,20; etc.) - the result was: Sinking into apostasy (desertion of God given principles), see 1 Ki 12,25-33; etc.

2. The Second Covenant People refused God's direct guidance by deserting the God given Charismatic Offices (see Eph 4,11 and WT), replacing them with the so called apostolic succession or (in some churches) even worse, with representatives of (sometimes democratically) elected* members of popular assemblies, nobilities, etc. - the result is : Sinking into apostasy. This process already started during the life-time of the Apostles (see 2 Tim 1,15; 3 Jn 9-10).

* There is no such thing in God's realm as democracy. In God's establishments the power comes from above (from God) and not from below. The power which comes from below is the power of satan.

We can summarize the above mentioned processes (apostasy) by saying that the People of the Covenants became religious.

What is religion? Religion is a system whereby man strives to achieve perfection, goodness and acceptance by God through his own efforts.

We have to state emphatically that Christianity is not a religion. Christianity is: God reaching out for man. For God states that it is impossible for man to reach Him except through the ONE path which He provided; the complete acceptance of Jesus the Christ, His Son and this acceptance can be through God's grace only. "No one can come to me (to Jesus), unless the Father who sent me draws him' (Jn 6,44).

Those who turn religious reject God*/Jesus Christ** as THE center of their life and replace Him with a system (like the law, the institution of the church, etc.). This will result in the departure of the Holy Spirit. The person (or the church) now operates without the direct guidance of God. The Lord will be replaced by satan (every vacuum will be filled). Now the inevitable fall will follow!

* First Covenant. ** Second Covenant.

The only way out of this situation is repentance and re-acceptance of the Holy Spirit, Who will then show the way!

Democracy

The source of all authority IS God!

At the beginning was God (see Jn 1,1) and His rule.

Man `walked' with God (see Gn 3,8) and had a close fellowship with Him (see Gn 2,15.19.22).

Sin alienated man from God (see Gn 3). As sin increased so God's direct leadership decreased.

God re-started several times His relationship with His rebellious creation: Noah (see Gn 6,9--9,28); Abram (see Gn 12--25,11). The next important attempt was the calling of Moses (see Ex 2) and the establishing of the Israelites in the Promise Land (see Josh).

After the Chosen People rejected its King (that is, God, see 1 Sam 8), the Lord gave them a King (see 1 Sam 9) - He delegated His authority.

Kings ruled* Israel and later Christian nations. The degeneration of monarchies world wide, resulted in emerging democracies as the next best solution.

* Kings ruled in the name of God - not so presidents. The power from above again shifted further down to the power from below. There is such thing as perverted authority.

Up to the present time, there are three shifting of authority:

1. God ruled at the beginning and He reigned again every time when He reestablished His relationship with His intelligent creation (Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles);

2. God relinquished His power and direct guidance (upon the demand* of the people) to a king, which, at first, He selected (see 1 Sam 9), then later (at least time to time) the king was elected by the people (see for example 1 Ki 12,20);

* God respects man's free will.

3. This election led later to the idea of democracy. Here, the ruler is the representative of the people and not of God;

4. Because of the world-wide downfall of the monarchy and the failure of democratic systems to rule adequately a fourth power emerged again and again, that is, dictatorship.

This power will be the last form of world-government before the Christ will return (Antichrist= the son of perdition or the beast, see 2 Thess 2,3-4; Rev 13).

Outreach

Christian missionary activities are Biblical and are an essential part of being a Christian. Without the preaching of the Good News we are not fulfilling the mandate of Christ (see Mk 16,15).

Before reaching out:

Christian outreach is the task of the Church, which delegates a portion of her mandate to individual church-groups and individual Christians.

The Church, the church-group and so also the individual Christian has to be willing AND capable to bring the Good News, to reach out to others. It is not enough to be willing, the Christian must also be equipped to "serve".

To be equipped means:

- to be "born again in water and the Spirit" (Jn 3,5);

- to be in bedded in a local congregation - a longer participation is necessary;

- to show the fruits of the Spirit: "From the fruits you will know them" (Mt 7,16 [v.17.18]) - spiritual maturity is indispensable (see Gal 5,22-26);

- to be trained in the type of ministry the Christian will participate in.

We can not bring (or no one through us) anyone further then we are ourselves!!

The preparation of the Christian will come about through the Holy Spirit dwelling in his heart and through guidance by a Spirit filled congregation and its leadership.

The outreach:

Although there are many general rules for an outreach, the concrete situation cannot always be exactly anticipated.

Some general thoughts on this subject:

An outreach in an underdeveloped country and a non-Christian environment* is often less difficult then an outreach in a so called Christian country and or in a rich developed country.

* Exceptions are always to be expected, for instance, in a communist country or in a Moslem country. A special preparation will be needed for the outreach in such countries.

In an underdeveloped country (often even with Christian traditions), where people are not attached to material things, hungry for the truth, the methods of the Early Christian missionaries are still effective (study the methods of Paul by reading the Acts and his letters and "Church 1").

Countries where Christianity has a long history and material wealth, prosperity is dampening the human soul, the bringing of the Good News will have to overcome enormous difficulties:

- Christian history is often a history of divisions, sectarianism and often enough wars between different so called Christian groups and countries.

- Material prosperity is one of the greatest enemies of the Gospel because it idolizes human progress and living standards and it is a hotbed of all kinds of rebellion against God.

  • This rebellion can take shape in the form of turning to false religions, developing theories which will mesmerize the masses (evolution, psychology, humanism, communism, etc.), indulging in

material wealth, creating securities all around so that one has the feeling that one does not need God at all, etc.

In this environment the missionary has to LIVE his faith often without words, waiting for the God-given opportunity for his testimony of the truth. The guidance of the Holy Spirit is always important.

It is practically a general rule that the Spirit will open the "door" of a heart through bringing the person to his knees. Especially under the above described situations no human effort will prevail until and unless the Spirit breaks down the barriers. This breaking down is a painful process and man will resist it with all his might (I am speaking from personal experience!) - very few people will radically reorient themselves, change priorities, get rid of their manifold idols (money, prosperity, security, etc.) and make God the center of their life voluntarily!!

Here we have to remember the extremely important parable of Jesus, see Lk 14,16-21 - "...bring in the poor the maimed, the blind and the lame...": In such fat countries we have to look for those whom Jesus said to come to save: "...to bring the good news to the poor..." (Lk 4,18a). The Christian Church must be prepared to cater for the outcast of the society. Jesus did and the Original Church did too! This of course requires from everyone a very close walk with the Lord!